New Public Assembly Bill to go before Seychelles MP's soon
File Photo: Partial view of a session of the Seychelles National Assembly in progress. (Louis Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles National Assembly will soon be called upon to vote on a new Public Assembly Bill. This has been decided by the island nation's Cabinet of Ministers.
The news announced on Wednesday, comes barely three weeks after the island nation’s Constitutional Court, ruled that some 18 sections and subsections of Public Order Act are unconstitutional.
“The new legislation will replace the current Public Order Act 2013, which, the Constitutional Court recently ruled, contained certain elements that did not fully conform to the Constitution,” reads a press statement issued by State House yesterday evening.
It was on December 6, 2013 that the Seychelles National Assembly approved the Public Order Bill 2013 and enacted it into law as the Public Order Act, 2013, which came into effect as it was published in Official Gazette on January 6, 2014, after it was assented by the President.
The POA consisting of 39 sections of law repealed the previous Public Order Act 1959 following the electoral reform process which started in November 2011.
The process had involved consultation by members of the Electoral Commission (EC), representatives of political parties, the civil society as well as a representative of the Office of the Attorney General and the Commonwealth Secretariat and the general public.
It was the Seychelles National Party (SNP), the Seselwa United Party (SUP), together with a civil society organization, Citizens Democracy Watch as well as a Seychellois citizen Viral Dhanjee who had filed cases before the court against the POA claiming that it had elements that contravened the Constitution of Seychelles and had also “rejected all recommendations of the Electoral Commission without any consultations with them or with the Electoral Reform Commission.”
According to the State House press statement issued on Wednesday, the new Public Assembly Bill 2015 which will be recommended to the National Assembly for adoption “contains essentially the same provisions as those proposed to Government by the Electoral Commission in July 2012, following consultations with all stakeholders.”
“At that time, Government opted to adopt a more comprehensive Public Order Act which Government believed took into consideration wider concerns of public safety, security and the preservation of law and order in a modern society.”
Commenting on the cabinet resolution, the Seychelles President James Michel has said that it is important to “proceed rapidly to the adoption of a non-controversial and effective legislation on public gatherings” subsequent to the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
"I have always said that the Government would abide by whatever ruling that the Constitutional Court came to on the subject of the Public Order Act… Peace, stability and law and order are essential to the development of our democracy, and especially so in the remaining short period leading up to the forthcoming Presidential and National Assembly Elections. I believe that our decision today reflects the maturity of our democracy and our country's commitment to good governance and the rule of law," said Michel in the State House statement.
The Attorney General Ronny Govinden explained to SNA that the government’s decision has just been announced but that preparing the new law should be done quite fast.
"The law will not be ready right away, it will be completed for the next session of the National Assembly, which will resume in September," said Govinden.