The President of the Republic, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan, and the First Lady. Mrs. Linda Ramkalawan attended the annual ceremonious events to formally launch the re-opening of the Supreme Court of Seychelles, yesterday morning.
The President and Mrs. Ramkalawan first attended a religious service accentuated under this year’s theme, ‘Learn from the past: Build tomorrow’, held at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Victoria.
The mass was followed by the ceremonial parade led by the National Brass Band from the Cathedral along Albert Street, up to the Clock Tower and to the Victoria Gymnasium car park followed by a motorcade to the Palais de Justice.
The Head of State and Mrs. Ramkalawan then attended the ceremony at the Palais de Justice where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles, Mr. Rony Govinden delivered his annual speech.
Chief Justice Govinden spoke about the court’s successes, challenges, and plans for the upcoming year and provided their perspective on certain issues that are in the public domain, besides the Judiciary. He first spoke on the separation of power where he underlined the 3 principal roles of the President of the Republic: Head of State, Executive Head/Chief, and Commander in Chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces. As Head of State, the President, under Article 66(2) of the Constitution, ensures that the Constitution and laws are being applied correctly in the Seychelles. Chief Justice Govinden further underlined the importance for the Judiciary to hold discussions with the aim to resolve its challenges, as demanded by the Constitution.
“As Head of State, he needs to interact with all branches of the government, including independent institutions, to ensure that things work well. It is in that manner that we, the judges, went to see the Head of State later last year to discuss about the subjects that we saw were too pertinent and that could affect our conditions of service. We appreciate the welcome we received and of the frank discussion that took place. This meeting had nothing to do with the cases in front of us but simply on the administrative problems that we are facing. The Head of State proposed ways that we can move forward from these issues, and we hope to make progress on them this year,” said Chief Justice Govinden.
In regards to the media, the Chief Justice committed to improve communication with the media, “We recognise that we need to ensure that the media receive timely, up-to-date, and accurate judicial information. This year, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that these objectives are met. Let me once again express my appreciation for your help in this part of ensuring that all citizens have full access to judicial and legal information, thereby helping them to better exercise their rights and obligations.”
To increase the public’s trust in the judicial system, Chief Justice Govinden informed that this year they will continue to ensure that the four strategic pillars are maintained: ensuring a high standard of conduct and integrity of judges and judicial staff, to hold accountable judges and judicial staff who attempt to commit disciplinary offences, improve the dissemination of information to the public on the functioning of the justice system. and continue to provide continuous training to judicial officers with the aim of strengthening their knowledge of our Rules of Ethics.
The Chief Justice also touched upon some new Rules and Regulations that have either been amended or changed such as a proposal to change the legal aid system, submission of a Law Society Bill to the Attorney General’s Office with the aim of establishing an independent council to oversee the professional activities of lawyers, continuous education, and the need to retain qualified staff.
During his address, he also expressed concerns concerning an imbalance of men and women entering the legal profession, whereby he called for both sexes who have the motivation and intelligence to put in the same effort to study and pass all the exams to become a lawyer.
In regards to digitalisation, Chief Justice Govinden announced that early this year they would be introducing e-filing for submissions that are currently made in physical form. This project will be followed by a major change to the electronic filing of all legal documents, which they will need to include in the amendments to the legislation that does not currently accept e-filing. They want online case management system to form the basis of this new e-filing system. In the meantime, they have also started to digitise the Judicial Library and its archive to reduce the number of old paper documents.
The auspicious event was also marked by the inspection of the Guard of Honour by the Chief Justice outside the Palais de Justice building and the cutting of cake.
The ceremonial events were also attended by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Roger Mancienne, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr. Roy Fonseka, the Commissioner of Police; Mr. Ted Barbe, members of the diplomatic corps; President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Anthony Fernando; Justices of Appeal; Judges of the Supreme Court; the Attorney-General; Mr. Frank Ally, Roman Catholic Bishop; Mr. Alain Harel, Registrar of the Supreme Court; Mrs. Juliana Esticot, Master of the Supreme Court; Ms. Natasha Burian, Magistrates; Attorneys at law; members and staff of the Judiciary.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles.