ISHR and the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) organised a workshop in Victoria, Seychelles on 16 May 2023 to gather civil society and discuss the challenges they face in their work as well as the possibilities afforded to them to raise the restrictions they face to international and regional human rights mechanisms.
During our discussion reviewing the situation of defenders in the country, including as to the legal framework in place, participants identified a number of challenges preventing them to work in an enabling environment. Amongst them was the new Registration of Association Act passed by the national assembly in September 2022 allowing the government to have their say on who becomes an executive member on the board of any association.
“The burden and cost put on civil society to submit annual audit reports in order to receive funding and remain on the registry is restrictive. It should be done on a case by case basis so that smaller organisations which often operate on a voluntary basis can still do their work with the communities they protect,” added a participant.
The workshop was also the opportunity for participants to learn more about the work of international and regional mechanisms and how they can use them to further their advocacy objectives as well as to report violations of their rights. In particular, as most participants expressed their lack of knowledge of these mechanisms and how their country engages with them when it comes to their international obligations, they shared their willingness to attempt to include these mechanisms in their wider strategies.
“We will proceed with an analysis to decide on the next step which will be more feasible for Seychelles, noting that certain laws already exist. But above all, a fair dose of education must be injected with a particular focus on human rights defenders,” concluded Alvin Laurence, CEO of CEPS.