The The Human Dignity Trust (HDT), who is assisting the Office of the Attorney General since 2019 in drafting localised legislation to protect vulnerable groups against hate crimes, visited Chief Justice Rony Govinden for a courtesy call on Monday 21 February 2022 during their weeklong visit to Seychelles.
The Chief Justice stressed the importance of legislative protection for minorities and vulnerable groups in Seychelles during the meeting, explaining that currently there is no law or aggravating factor that takes hate crime into consideration in a court case.
“People who have experienced elements of hate have tried to bring this to the criminal justice system, but unfortunately it does not stand,” Chief Justice Govinden said. “Then they may try to bring it forward as a defamation case, but it doesn’t carry the same weight.”
HDT briefed the Chief Justice on how they are facilitating the work of local experts in the drafting of legislation that protects those targeted because of characteristics: race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity- or the perception of such characteristics.
This was well received and in turn, the Chief Justice gave HDT feedback on how various options of law could work in Seychelles’ court system.
The Human Dignity Trust is the only organisation working globally to achieve a world in which LGBT people are free from criminalisation and enjoy the protection of the law. By mobilising pro bono support from the world’s leading law firms, HDT unlocks millions of pounds’ worth of free legal advice for LGBT activists across five continents.
Hate crime laws provide important symbolic recognition of crimes that take place because of prejudice against marginalised and vulnerable groups, as well as legislating for offenders to receive harsher punishments for such crimes. They are different from hate speech laws, which focus on forms of expression against marginalised groups.