Forum in Seychelles discusses issue of hate crimes as government eyes legislation
Rosie Brighouse, a senior lawyer at Human Dignity Trust addressing participants. (Judiciary)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The need for hate crime legislation in Seychelles and its content was the subject of a workshop on Saturday facilitated by the Human Dignity Trust (HDT), an international human rights organisation.
Participants learned more about hate crime laws in other countries and examples of hate-crime laws that can be implemented in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and deliberated proposals and options.
Present at the discussion were representatives of the organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Seychelles, the Human Rights Commission, Ladies Circle Seychelles, and End Rape in Seychelles among others.
The discussion was led by Dr Mark Walters, a professor of law and criminology who described hate crime as 'criminal acts that involved the element of hate, driven by prejudices, animosity, bias or contempt, that underpins or accompany an offender's conduct'.
The Human Dignity Trust is already working with the Attorney General of Seychelles, Frank Ally, on a draft hate crime legislation, which will when ready be presented to the President and his cabinet.
|The workshop was facilitated by the Human Dignity Trust. (Judiciary) Photo License: CC-BY|
Hate crime laws are designed to protect vulnerable groups from crimes that are targeted at them because of personal characteristics, such as their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The chairperson of LGBTI Seychelles, Naddy Vidot, told reporters that "having this kind of support from HDT, the British High Commission and other parties involved here is very important in bringing these issues to light and also seeing how we can work collectively to address these issues."
The director for the disabled at the Ministry of Family Affairs, Marco Jerry, on his side stressed the need for acceptance.
"I think we need to work on sensitising the public into accepting people with disabilities, where in the future we can see more people with disabilities being integrated into society and being able to gain employment and other services," said Jerry.
He added that his division will be looking to share the information and data on people living with disabilities to ensure that the law also provides protection for them.
The Human Dignity Trust is the only organisation working globally to achieve a world in which LGBT people are free from criminalisation and enjoy the protection of the law.
Rosie Brighouse, senior lawyer at Human Dignity Trust said, "We are keen to provide a space for local organisations to explore together how hate crimes legislation may provide an important layer of protection for Seychellois citizens for many generations to come."