Message from the Chief Justice’s office on the occasion of International Justice Day

17 July 2023

As we join the global community in celebrating International Justice Day today, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable progress and enduring commitment of Seychelles’ legal system.

Our nation’s legal landscape has witnessed remarkable transformations throughout its history. From the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1903 to the present day, Seychelles has evolved into a nation of justice and the rule of law. We have embraced our unique legal heritage, blending civil and common law principles to shape a judicial system that reflects our national identity.

Throughout the years, our Supreme Court has rendered landmark decisions that have set crucial precedents, guiding the course of justice in Seychelles. Noteworthy cases such as R. v. Francourt (1972), which affirmed the constitutional rights of individuals, and Lafontaine v. President of Seychelles (2013), which addressed matters of constitutional interpretation, have exemplified the Court’s dedication to upholding justice and safeguarding our democracy.

In addition to our commitment to justice within Seychelles, the Judiciary of Seychelles actively contributes to the strengthening of international justice through various memberships and engagements. As a nation dedicated to upholding human rights and the rule of law, we participate in several international juridical and non-juridical organizations, as well as adhere to important international human rights institutions and procedural conventions.

These include but are not limited to the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA), African Judicial Network (AJN), Commonwealth Secretariat, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR). We also cannot forget the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and also the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Through our involvement in these organizations and adherence to international conventions, Seychelles actively contributes to the development of international jurisprudence, human rights standards, and the promotion of access to justice globally.

By collaborating with these esteemed entities, we strengthen our capacity to address complex legal challenges, exchange best practices, and contribute to the ongoing improvement of the global justice system.

As we celebrate our achievements, we must also acknowledge the areas in which we can further enhance our legal system to ensure better access to justice for all. The Judiciary is steadfast in its commitment to improving access to justice and maintaining the highest standards of fairness and equity.

First and foremost, we recognize the need to strengthen our efforts in promoting legal literacy and awareness among our citizens. An informed society is an empowered society. We shall work diligently to enhance public understanding of the legal system, ensuring that individuals are aware of their rights, responsibilities, and the avenues available for seeking redress. By fostering legal education initiatives and engaging with communities, we strive to empower every citizen to navigate the legal landscape with confidence.

Furthermore, we are determined to tackle the challenges of delays and backlog in our court system. Recognizing the profound impact that delays can have on the lives of those seeking justice, we are committed to implementing measures that expedite court proceedings, enhance case management systems, and optimize the allocation of resources. Through technology-driven innovations, we aim to streamline processes, reduce waiting times, and bring justice closer to all Seychellois. This is already set in motion and ongoing through virtual hearings, recruitment of more Judges and Magistrates, legal researchers and optimizing the court staff network.

Another pivotal aspect of our pursuit of justice is the need to address the issue of access to legal representation, especially for those who may be economically disadvantaged. The Judiciary, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, will explore avenues for enhancing legal aid services and promoting pro bono initiatives. Our goal is to ensure that no individual is denied justice due to financial constraints and that equal access to legal representation is a reality for all.

In the spirit of progress, we recognize the importance of fostering international collaborations and drawing from global best practices. This was most recently reflected in our working visit with the Tanzanian Judiciary two month ago.

On this International Justice Day, let us renew our commitment to the principles of fairness, equality, and the rule of law. Together, we shall forge a brighter future, where justice is accessible, where the rights of all individuals are protected, and where the spirit of justice prevails in every corner of our beloved Seychelles.