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Nichole Tirant-Gherardi ends term as Ombudsman of Seychelles on a positive note

Victoria, Seychelles | May 15, 2024, Wednesday @ 09:27 in Editorial » THE INTERVIEW | By: Sedrick Nicette Edited By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 4031
Nichole Tirant-Gherardi ends term as Ombudsman of Seychelles on a positive note

Tirant-Gherardi was sworn in on May 31, 2017. (Seychelles Nation)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - After seven years in office, the Ombudsman of Seychelles, Nichole Tirant-Gherardi, will end her mandate at the end of May.

Prior to her appointment as the Ombudsman, she served as the chief editor for the Today in Seychelles newspaper and was also the secretary general of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) from 1999 to 20101. She is a barrister and attorney-at-law with a diverse experience and background.

As she comes to the end of her term as Ombudsman, despite the challenges, Tirant-Gherardi told SNA she can count many accomplishments during her tenure.

 

SNA: You are leaving your position as Ombudsman, after seven years, how does that feel?

NTG: The mandate of an Ombudsman is quite long, it is for seven years. I am now past retirement age, and I don't think I can continue giving the same amount of energy to the job for another seven years. So, I do not want to start something that I will have to quit after two years. Plus, I think it's time for somebody else to come in, with new ideas and bring this work further.

 

SNA: Tell us about your achievements and challenges as Ombudsman.

NTG: What I have done before my departure is to create what I have called a handover report, which I have given a copy to the Constitutional Appointees Authority (CAA). This will help prepare questions for the interviews with my potential successor. I also wish that the report can be published, as I spoke about my work for the past seven years.

I also believe that I have improved this institution during my time. This is a very important institution and unfortunately, I think that it has fallen by the wayside. I have gone overseas and also worked a lot locally, to give it the visibility it deserves. There needs to be a lot of education to ensure people understand the role of the Ombudsman and other government institutions, but that is not something I can do on my own.

 

SNA: Have you made any changes to the office itself?

NGT: Yes. I have changed a lot in the Office of the Ombudsman and I feel it will make it easier for whoever comes after me to settle into the job, and look to continue what I started and even improve upon it. We have put a lot of procedures in place concerning how we process reports and how we deal with them.

We have also worked to give the office more visibility and for that, I want to thank the media for coming to us and giving us a space to share what we do with the public. I have noticed that every time we appear on the local media, the number of cases we receive go up.

The Ombudsman presenting her annual to President Wavel Ramkalawan. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY 

 

SNA: Do you receive a lot of complaints at your office?

NGT: We have received over 2,000 complaints here and so we have created a database, called a case management system, which allows us to have quick access to all documents linked to any of the cases we work on. This is something we are really proud of and has made things more effective for us.

We have also re-branded the logo and made some small changes to it aimed at making the office more visible to the public. We are also affiliated with two international bodies, and in both of them, I was elected on the executive committee. We also have updated our website, where all information about us can be seen.

 

SNA: Is there anything you feel you have not achieved or could have done better during your time as Ombudsman?

NGT: Well, what I wish we could have done better is to see the office focus more on what we call 'own motions'. This allows the Ombudsman to verify complaints and remove the person from this problem and focus instead on the problem itself, which could be at a particular ministry or multiple ministries, then make a more detailed investigation.

When we finish with this type of investigation, we will be able to come out with a report that covers that particular issue in all aspects with recommendations on how to solve such issues. This will allow for the identification of issues within the ministries themselves, which can help reduce the number of grievances reported.

 

SNA: Now that you are leaving this position can you tell us more about your professional journey?

NGT: I have had a long career doing a lot of different things. For me, variety is the spice of life. I have never been happy when I am not learning something new, and I always want to push myself and get to a higher level.

I started my career in administration at the Ministry of Agriculture in 1978, after completing my law degree. After that I went back to complete my final year of my law studies and became a lawyer, working with the Attorney General's office for some years. Then I worked for two years at a parastatal law agency, Francis Rachel Law Centre, and then went back to University in France where I specialised in international marketing, which was my first departure from law. In 1994, I returned to Seychelles for good, where I went back to being a lawyer and did not like it as I felt I was not moving forward. I left to become the secretary general of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce. I spent 11 years there because there was a lot to learn.  

Then a bit of political interest brought me to the media world, where I joined Today in Seychelles at its inception, another completely new job for me. But if you ask me, where I enjoyed the most, it was there, although it was also the toughest place I worked. Then, finally, I moved to be Ombudsman. I had always wanted to become a judge, and sent a lot of applications, but that never worked out, and so being an ombudsman was the closest I could get to that dream.

 

SNA: You said you want to take things a little lighter now, what can we expect from you then?

NGT: Yes, I think you might see me somewhere else soon enough. I have done a lot of research and learned a lot of things, and that increased my interest in NGOs that's something that I would like to see myself in and look to bring more awareness to the work of the Ombudsman and also look at ways where I can transmit the things I have learned to the younger generation.

 

SNA: Is there anything final message that you wish to share?

NGT: The only thing I want to add is that I have really enjoyed my time here. Honestly, I never thought I would last the whole seven years, but these seven years went by so fast. I think I got a lot of respect from the Seychellois public and I have really appreciated that. 

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Tags: Ombudsman, Constitutional Appointees Authority

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