Truth and reconciliation commission begins first public hearings in Seychelles
The commission will hear witness testimony in cases of murder, torture, disappearances and unlawful acquisition of properties for the next two weeks. (Joena Meme)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission on Monday began public hearings of human rights violations and other grievances which happened in Seychelles from the 1977 coup until the return of the multiparty system in 1993.
The commission will hear witness testimony in cases of murder, torture, disappearances and unlawful acquisition of properties for the next two weeks.
The first case heard Monday morning was that of Davidson Chang Him, who was shot to death on the day of the coup on June 5, 1977. Chang Him was one of three persons who lost their lives on that day.
Maxim Ferrari - a former minister in the government of late France Albert Rene who came into power following the coup which he led – was the first witness before the commission.
|Maxime Ferrari was the first witness before the commission. (Joena Meme) Photo License: CC-BY|
The purpose of the hearings held at the National House is to assist the commission in establishing the truth with respect to the allegations and to establish an accurate and objective public record of those violations.
The seven-member commission led by Australian lawyer Gabrielle McIntyre took their oath in May and started registering complaints and grievances from individuals early last month.
When opening the hearings McIntyre said all the hearings will be strictly in line with the commission’s mandate which is to establish the truth. “The establishment of the truth requires witnesses to come forward and people being willing to tell the truth.”
The commission is, therefore, asking that people with knowledge and information to what has happened to come forward.
Michael Green, the vice-chair of the commission, told journalists that whatever information and evidence are gathered during the process will help those affected in terms of knowing the truth, getting closure but also in some cases receiving compensation.
“At least 58 percent of the complaints received are asking for compensations whilst others only want to know the truth or receive an official apology. But compensations will also have to come in terms of monetary rewards for those who have lost properties,” explained Green.
Ferrari said that he was very happy to have had the chance to give his truth of what happened on the day when Rene seized power and other events that followed.
The commission, which was set up in 2018 following the approval of the National Assembly, will provide the public with the opportunity to settle past political divisions and grievances that began with the 1977 coup d’état.
The commission will be filing complaints for six months, a process that started in August. To date over 100 cases have been lodged to the commissioners.
The truth and reconciliation process leading towards national unity will be implemented in Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - over a three-year period.