Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, and Seychelles is not exempted.
Seychelles as a whole – through its Police Force, Ministry of Employment, Internal Affairs, and the Criminal Justice system, cracks down on human trafficking in a cohesive way.
Trends of human trafficking, although very low in Seychelles’ jurisdiction, show that instances of human trafficking and breaching of labour laws take place in foreign employment cases through sectors such as construction, agriculture, and other works involving manual labour.
With combined efforts of monitoring, reporting, and following due process through the rule of law, Seychelles demonstrates that human rights violations are taken very seriously in country.
The Fundamental Rights provisions enshrined in the Constitution of Seychelles include the rights to dignity of the person and freedom from slavery and forced or compulsory labour, set out in Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution respectively. Together with the rights to shelter, healthcare, a safe environment, movement, as well as the right to privacy, the Constitution also guarantees the right to equal protection under the law. Through these constitutional guarantees, the courts mete out sanctions to traffickers to ensure that justice is served in good measure in cases of human trafficking brought before it.
From 2016 until 2021, eight human trafficking cases were filed with convictions before the Supreme Court. Two cases, which were filed in 2021, are currently pending trial. The sentences handed down by the courts in these cases also validate Seychelles’ willingness to take a strong stance against human trafficking – the most recent example is a case of human trafficking completed this month, which saw a sentence of 15 years and 10 years imprisonment to run concurrently.
“Values such as fairness, dignity, equality and respect are at the forefront of Seychelles’ democracy and criminal justice system – therefore it is no surprise that the Seychelles courts would apply the rule of law fairly and adequately in all human trafficking cases when these values are broken, and when human rights are breached in this way.” Chief Justice Rony Govinden said on the occasion.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lay down the principles that brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments.
Future success in eradicating human trafficking rests on the continued coordinated efforts of law enforcement, the criminal justice systems and others in leveraging technology in their responses, including by aiding investigations to shed light on trafficking networks; enhancing prosecutions through digital evidence to alleviate the situation of victims in criminal proceedings; and providing support services to survivors.
Prevention and awareness-raising activities on the safe use of the internet and social media could help mitigate the risk of people falling victim to trafficking online. Cooperation with the private sector is important to harness innovation and expertise for the development of sustainable, technology-based solutions to support the prevention and combatting of human trafficking.