1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: The Seychelles has a good track record of upholding human rights and ranks second in the 2018 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The country’s democratic consolidation continues, with the strengthening of key human rights and governance institutions. The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission was set up and operationalised in 2019, with the mandate of investigating complaints of alleged human rights violations committed in relation to the 1977 Coup which led to a one-party state until 1993. The Commission has three years to establish the truth, recommend compensation and reparations to victims and determine whether to grant amnesty to perpetrators, with the objective of achieving national reconciliation. The Commission’s hearings are broadcasted live on national TV and web streamed. The legal framework allowing the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission was also improved in 2019. The National Human Rights Commission was sworn in in 2019 but it was not fully operational by the end of the year. The Access to Information Bill was yet to be fully implemented. The main human rights issues in The Seychelles concern pre-trial detention, detention conditions, domestic violence against women and children, and migrant workers’ rights and forced labour, especially in the international trade zone.
2. EU action - key focus areas: The EU carried out activities in the following priority areas:
Strengthening electoral processes: An electoral governance project was implemented by the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles and benefitted from support by the EU delegation and EU Member States, in collaboration with the Electoral Commission. Electoral processes were also discussed in the framework of the EU-Seychelles Political dialogue.
Institutional strengthening of human rights and governance related institutions: Besides addressing the issue during its political dialogue with national stakeholders, the EU supported the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General's office. Transparency Initiative’s awareness raising activities and advocacy on accountability and corruption were also supported.
Combatting domestic violence was among the main EU priorities through the support of activities aimed at the improvement of the quality of life and dignity of vulnerable women and through political dialogue and advocacy in favour of an enhanced legal framework.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: The EU continued to support human rights and democracy in The Seychelles through its Article 8 Political Dialogue held in November 2019 and cooperation programmes. All three priorities of the Human Rights Strategy were discussed during the Article 8 Political Dialogue in November 2019.
The need to enhance electoral processes was discussed, based on recommendations issued following the 2016 parliamentary elections. In view of the forthcoming presidential elections in 2020, the EU expressed its readiness to provide support to the Electoral Commission if needed.
The importance of strengthening independent institutions was at the heart of the EU’s political engagement in the Seychelles with the government and with institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission and The Attorney General’s Office, which were both supported.
Gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence were extensively discussed with local stakeholders. Joint efforts led to the finalisation of the Domestic Violence Bill in 2018, which was tabled in Parliament in 2019 for discussion in 2020. The construction by the government of another permanent shelter for women victims of domestic violence was very promising.
4. EU financial engagement: Thematic budget lines EIDHR and CSO-LA funded a number of activities contributing to enhanced electoral governance, strengthening of governance institutions and combating domestic violence against women.
The EIDHR funded the electoral governance project implemented by the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles in collaboration with the Electoral Commission in order to jointly deliver trainings to political parties on their rights, duties and obligations.
The bilateral 11th EDF envelope was used to fund support to the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General's office.
The CSO/LA budget line financed the Transparency Initiative, which carried out awareness-raising activities and advocacy on the issues of governance, accountability and corruption. Actions also included research on corruption, building a platform for advocacy and constructive dialogue/debates on how to improve a framework for enhanced governance and accountability. The project was implemented in collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Commission Seychelles to assist in prevention activities with private entities and non-state actors.