Constitutional rights of Seychelles' citizens to enter their country under microscope - Travizory contract questioned
There have been numerous complaints from Seychellois living in other countries or returning from overseas travel, who see it as unfair that they have to pay a fee to travel to Seychelles. (Seychelles Nation)
Authorities in Seychelles are reviewing the fees that Seychellois citizens have to pay on the Travizory travel authorisation platform when travelling to their homeland, a top official said on Tuesday.
Transport minister Antony Derjacques made the statement when answering a private notice question from Sebastien Pillay, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.
The Seychelles Travel Authorisation is a mandatory travel document that all visitors must submit to enter the island nation. In place since September 2020, the system provides a secure digital border-crossing experience for governments and travellers, helping countries to re-open or keep open their borders in light of COVID-19 or other threats in the safest manner.
There have been numerous complaints from Seychellois living in other countries or returning from overseas travel, who see it as unfair that they have to pay a fee to travel to Seychelles.
Pillay asked, "since there are many complaints and concerns expressed by the public recently on Travizory, can the government tell the National Assembly - if you are reviewing the contract with Travizory with the aim to eventually abolish it entirely and who is the Law Chamber working for Travizory?"
"There are ongoing discussions where two things are being considered. One is that Seychellois nationals will not have to pay any fees to register on Travizory. We are also negotiating for Seychellois who do not possess a Seychellois passport to be able to register with Travizory and be given a registration number upon reviewing the necessary documents, to allow the person to travel," said Derjacques.
It costs €5.40 for a standard Travisory application, which is processed within six hours, and €25.40 for the application to be fast tracked and processed within one hour.
For Seychellois to pay to come to their homeland is seen by many as an infringement of their rights.
In a letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in December, the Seychelles Human Rights Commission stated that to its knowledge the government of Seychelles entered into a 10-year contract with a Swiss-based company known as Travizory Border Security on March 18, 2021.
The Commission said that "the concern under review is whether the government, through a private contract, can restrict a Seychelles citizen from entering Seychelles by means of an electronic travel process that occurs outside of Seychelles."
The Commission made reference to the "right for a Seychellois citizen to enter Seychelles enshrined in the Seychelles Constitution under Article 25 (2)."
"It is important to recognise that the right of a Seychellois citizen to enter Seychelles is absolute and, thus, not subject to a limitation under Article 25 (2) of the Constitution. Therefore, where a right, such as Article 25 (2) of the Constitution is absolute, any attempt by the state to limit such a right maybe construed as an infringement of said right," said the Commission.
SNA did not get an immediate response when trying to get a comment from a representative from the Ministry of Transport.
Derjacques told the National Assembly that the government has no intention of abolishing the use of Travizory but continuing discussions to improve it with the hope to eliminate the monetary charge completely.
"It is because of Travizory that Seychelles could re-open its borders to help redress the economy. It should be noted that Seychelles has done something that is upright and we will continue along that line for the safety of our country," he added.
He informed the National Assembly that Guy Ferley Law Chamber is working for Travizory in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
According to the minister, the Swiss-based company has 30 Seychellois employees and is also headed by a Seychellois manager.
Updated at 9.27 am on 24/03/22