On this International Human Rights Day, the Judiciary of Seychelles announces its guiding theme, “For peace, cultivate justice” (pacem, colunt justitiam) to reinforce the need for continued peace building, accountability, and restorative justice as the country continues to grow democratically.  

The reopening of the courts is set for Monday 11 January 2021, which will be marked with the usual tradition of church service, parade of Judges and Magistrates in central Victoria, and the observing of the National Guard at the Supreme Court. For the first time in the Judiciary’s history, the national anthem will also play for this occasion. This will follow with newly appointed Chief Justice Ronny Govinden’s first speech for the year.

2020 has been marked as a year of change. Changes in government, changes globally and in the economy, and changes in our lives. This can be daunting, and without the right framework in place, this can pose a threat to our stability as a nation.

Despite all this, justice is the one thing that prevails.

“Justice is unwavering, unaffected by the winds of change. It is the cornerstone and very foundation on which our nation stands, as our rights are enshrined in our Constitution to ensure that peace prevails and that justice never fails its citizens,” Chief Justice Ronny Govinden states.

Now more than ever, the independence of the Judiciary is vital to maintain peace and justice, even as both the executive and legislative body has undergone major transitions through the national elections in October 2020. The Judiciary being a separate arm of government, it seeks to keep all institutions in check to foster continuous peace and justice without any political interference.

Our justice system assures standards of due process and rule of law that can never be discredited or politicized. As a Judiciary, we will continue to enforce the justice mechanisms in place to ensure that justice not only exists in a void, but is also enforced. Our stakeholders can look to us as an independent, impartial, and fair body that aims to deliver justice in a timely and effective manner.

We have fought hard over the years to bring renewed confidence in the judicial process through timely access to justice, transparency, and effective court processes for all and we want to maintain this into the New Year.

Over recent years, Seychelles has opted for a form of democracy that is both accountable and participatory, in which no one is excluded. Justice can foster peace, especially in societies like our own, which is successfully moving away from political turmoil and repressive rule while addressing human rights abuses committed in the past.

The establishment of the Truth, Reconciliation, and National Unity Commission in 2018 was a catalyst for this idea of restorative justice, where people are able to come forward and offer full disclosure of what transpired in a most difficult time in our history and give people a sense of closure.

We face difficult choices every day about how to deal with this legacy, but through peace and justice, we can continue to engage in peace building and state building.

These are all central components of a just and peaceful democracy, as the Constitution places the judiciary at the heart of this process.

“The significance of this theme is self-evident,” Chief Justice Govinden explains. “Peace in its widest term is what we need presently in our history, and it is only by nurturing justice, of which the Judiciary represents one of its pillar, that real peace can be fostered as the foundation of progress and development.”