Formal motion for recusal of judges in Seychelles' Constitutional Court panel needed for hearing on 10th amendment
Govinden said that he saw no grounds for the request for recusal as a formal motion had not been filed. (Judiciary of Seychelles)
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Seychelles Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Bar Association of Seychelles to lodge a formal motion for the recusal of the panel hearing a petition lodged by the three entities.
The three institutions lodged a joint petition with the Constitutional Court on September 13, 2022, asking that the constitutionality of the 10th amendment of the Constitution be reviewed.
The panel hearing the case in the Constitutional Court is made up of Chief Justice Rony Govinden and justices Mohan Burhan and Brassel Adeline.
Govinden said that he saw no grounds for the request for recusal as a formal motion had not been filed.
He ordered the petitioners to file a formal motion requesting the recusal of the panel and substantiate their grounds for objections. The motion must be served on the counsel representing the government.
Three representatives of the petitioners, Divino Sabino, Conrad Lablache and George Robert have until October 11 to do so.
The 10th amendment to Seychelles' constitution was passed by the National Assembly to empower the Defence Forces to carry out internal law enforcement in Seychelles outside the context of a public emergency, enabling them to work alongside the Police Force.
"Our organisations share the concern that this Tenth Amendment undermines the democratic protections afforded by the Constitution, in particular due process, the rule of law and human rights," the petitioners said in the joint statement.
Principal state counsel Muhammed Saley said that "we get to be served the application and once we are, we get to take a position on the application. The government and the National Assembly will be filing preliminary objections in the matter."
The Ombudsman, Nichole Tirant-Gherardi, told the press that "we asked the panel to recuse themselves from the case, as this is a technical point in the law that if you feel a judge has knowledge or is implicated in a matter that is put before him, he is then asked to remove himself from the case."
This is the first time that the three such institutions have joined forces to challenge the government's decision to amend the constitution and Tirant-Gherardi said it was due to the fact that the three institutions have a constitutional duty to protect the constitution.
"We all feel that the amendment was made in a way that we do not believe was right. This is why we are asking the courts to rectify the issue or give guidance in the future as to how things should be done," she added.