17 June 2015
As part of the Seychelles Constitutional Day Activities, the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) has today held a forum to commemorate Constitutional Day 2015. The forum was held under the theme: Citizens as Guardian of the Constitution.
Over 60 participants attended the forum which aimed at regrouping civil society organizations and various stakeholders to discuss their fundamental roles and responsibility as stated in the constitution. In line with article 24 of the constitution CEPS organised the forum in the hope of advocating to citizens how they can participate in public affairs by knowing more about their rights and its limitations.
The forum was launched by CEPS Chairperson, Mr. Jules Hoareau, who stated that the event was historical as this is the first time that the Seychelles is recognizing the 18th of June as constitutional Day. He noted that fro civil society this is part of our responsibility to work alongside the Seychelles Government in towards the development of Seychelles.
The opening ceremony was followed by a panel led discussion. The panel constituted of Chairperson of CEPS Mr Jules Hoareau, the Secretary to the CEPS Board and last Chairperson of LUNGOS Mrs Marie-Nella Azemia and Judge Bernadin Renaud, a judge on the Seychelles Constitutional Court and the founding father of LUNGOS the umbrella organisation for non-governmental organisations of Seychelles, which was then superseded by CEPS.
The constitution of Seychelles already makes provision for citizens to have their “right to take part in the conduct of public affairs either directly or through freely chosen representatives” upon reaching the age of eighteen. A recommendation was that citizens are informed of this article and that in turn they are encouraged to become volunteers and participate actively within civil society organisations, assisted by the platform for civilsociety. The debate oriented over the need to educate citizens about the Seychelles Constitution. The issue of language, meaning legal terms and the review the need to understand the clauses. Members also discussed the need review the current constitution and get civil society more involved in the process. Members did question the various mechanisms in place that would facilitate the process for citizens to put forward their comments and play an active role in this process.
It was noted that there exists in Seychelles what w
as termed as ‘Constitutional Illiteracy’ and the need for citizens to be educated about our constitution. Members present pointed out that the media needs to do more in that area and those individual organisations should also take the initiative to conduct this exercise with their members.
CEPS has committed itself in putting together all the points raised and to put them forward to the various stakeholders, in identifying the way forward.