Right to search? Seychelles police want Supreme Court to clarify after Opposition Leader airport incident
The logo of the Seychelles police force.
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles police are challenging in the Supreme Court a commission of inquiry's recommendation concerning the airport search of the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, a representative said on Friday.
An opinion in the recommendation by Justice Robinson said that the police cannot search a person if they don't have a reasonable doubt, even if the person has given its consent for the search to take place, lawyer Frank Elisabeth told a press conference.
"We do not accept this recommendation and we have decided to put this before the court to ask them to make a pronouncement on if the judge was correct when she made the recommendation in line with the law," added Elisabeth.
In the report released on Tuesday, the commission which was set up by President Danny Faure, said the search on Wavel Ramkalawan was unlawful.
The search was conducted by an Anti-Narcotic Bureau (ANB) officer on the luggage of Ramkalawan, the presidential candidate of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) party, upon his return from an official trip in South Africa on February 8. His diplomatic passport was also taken temporarily for verification.
The report stated that the ANB officer did not satisfy the test of reasonable grounds before the search was conducted on Ramkalawan.
Elisabeth said that this is unfair as the Judge concentrated her decision and recommendations entirely on the Misuse of Drug Act, but did not take into account Article 20 of the Constitution.
"This section talks on the right to privacy and it is above the police Act. Therefore it means that the police cannot conduct a search on a person or property without the person's permission," said Elisabeth.
He said that in this specific case, Ramkalawan asked the officer to search on him and the judge had even agreed that it was he who instigated the search.
"Therefore, she cannot turn around to say that Article 25 under the Misuse of Drug Act stops the police to search a person even if consent had been given," said Elisabeth.
He added that this is taken into consideration before the court, it will mean that the search conducted was not illegal as Seychelles' Constitution covers the action of the police. Elisabeth said the decision of the judge is creating precedence and giving a wrong impression to the people that they cannot be stopped and searched on reasonable doubts.
On the order that the information pertaining to the unlawful search be expunged on the database of the police force, Elisabeth said that the information was to keep a record of the day and it is important that the information is kept in a database and this applies to all people being searched on.
The report also directed the Commissioner of Police, Krishnan Labonte, to write a letter to Ramkalawan to say that the order of the commission has been complied with.
Elisabeth said that for the time being this has not been done as he doesn't know yet if the police are waiting for the case to go before the court to come up with a final decision.