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CIVICUS Monitor places Seychelles under "narrow civic space" rating for 2023

Victoria, Seychelles | February 23, 2024, Friday @ 16:39 in National » GENERAL | By: Rita Joubert-Lawen Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3696
CIVICUS Monitor places Seychelles under "narrow civic space" rating for 2023

A peaceful silent protest by the Association of Media Practitioners Seychelles, a member of CEPS, in November 2022. (Seychelles Nation) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles got a "narrowed" rating for 2023 from the CIVICUS Monitor, a global civil society alliance, and the chief executive of Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) said the country has not done too badly.

The latest CIVICUS Monitor country rating update, which came out in December 2023, indicates when civil society faces an increasingly hostile environment under five ratings - open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed or closed.

A narrowed rating like Seychelles got has three main points; one is while the state allows individuals and civil society organisations to exercise their rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, violations of these rights also take place.

The rating also states that while people can form associations to pursue a wide range of interests, full enjoyment of this right is impeded by occasional harassment, arrest or assault of people deemed critical of those in power.

Another point in the rating is that protests are conducted peacefully, although authorities sometimes deny permission, citing security concerns, and excessive force, which may include tear gas and rubber bullets, are sometimes used against peaceful demonstrators.

The report stated that in Africa, South of the Sahara, the continent's civic space remains highly restricted with 45 out of 50 countries and territories being rated as obstructed, repressed, or closed.

"This means that the vast majority of people in Africa South of the Sahara face significant restrictions in exercising civic space freedoms. Civic space is open only in the island states of Cabo Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe, while Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles have narrowed civic space," said the report.

Laurence said that the Seychelles' situation is better as "there is an institution like CEPS that exists and gathers all actors in civil society- allowing them to do their work."

In Seychelles, President Wavel Ramkalawan assented to the Associations Act of 2022 on April 28, 2022, after it was approved by the National Assembly although the legislation has yet to be enforced.

On August 9 last year, the Minister of Finance, National Planning, and Trade, Naadir Hassan, said that the amendments serve to suspend certain provisions of the Act, which will soon come into effect.

Despite expressing its disappointment at the time of the announcement, Laurence said in his recent interview that the "1959 Associations Law has remained in place and has limited the number of associations from closing down."

He revealed that CEPS is reviewing its strategic plan since "Civil Society has to adapt to restrictive conditions" but added that "Seychelles has been consistent despite the existing restrictions, and civil society having gone through financially rocky times."

This year as part of the new laws governing associations in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, associations had to fill in a continuation form to declare their intent to continue their functions.

Laurence added that one of the reasons attributed to civil society's funding being affected is industrial and natural calamities.

According to the CIVICUS Monitor 2023 report, "There are now 28 countries or territories with closed civic space, 50 with repressed civic space and 40 with obstructed civic space, meaning that 118 of 198 countries and territories are experiencing severe restrictions in fundamental freedoms. In comparison, 43 countries have narrowed civic space and just 37 have an open rating." 

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Tags: Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles, CIVICUS Monitor

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