Seychelles

No Data

Immigration detainees

Not Available

Detained children

2017

12,926

International migrants

2019

100,000

Population

2020

Overview

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

10 March 2021

K. Warren, “Seychelles is Opening to Tourists with no Quarantine or Vaccine Required, and it's Following the Same Model the Maldives Used to Launch its Tourism Success Story,” The Insider, 10 March 2021, https://www.insider.com/seychelles-travel-covid-no-quarantine-or-vaccine-2021-3
K. Warren, “Seychelles is Opening to Tourists with no Quarantine or Vaccine Required, and it's Following the Same Model the Maldives Used to Launch its Tourism Success Story,” The Insider, 10 March 2021, https://www.insider.com/seychelles-travel-covid-no-quarantine-or-vaccine-2021-3

The Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands off the coast of East Africa, reported its first case of COVID-19 in March 2020; as of 10 March 2021 the country has reported a total of 3,032 cases and 15 related deaths. Measures Seychelles adopted to curb the spread of the virus included suspension of air travel from 31 March 2020 and temporary extension of migrants’ permits.

In June 2020, at least 59 members of a Spanish fishing fleet--which arrived from Senegal and the Ivory Coast--tested positive for the virus. The country’s Public Health Commissioner confirmed that all those who tested positive were to be isolated in the fleet’s ships rather than onshore, as the fleet had its own doctor, PPE, and ability to monitor patients’ temperatures.

For many years, the Seychelles has relied upon foreign migrant workers. Between 2006 and 2016 the number of migrant workers increased from 4,160 to 15,074, and according to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, migrants represented 25 percent of the country’s labour force in 2015. The majority of migrant workers are employed in the construction sector, followed by the tourism and manufacturing sectors. They are required to possess a Gainful Employment Permit (GOP). During the pandemic, expired work permits were extended to legalise the stay of non-Seychellois workers while borders were closed, with employers required to provide food and shelter during this period. However, in February 2021 authorities revised the country’s framework for the GOP in order to increase local workers’ access to the labour market. Amongst various changes to the framework was the cancellation of COVID-19 related concessions, including the extension of the GOP work permits.

Although Seychelles’ laws provide for immigration detention, the Global Detention Project has been unable to determine whether people in immigration procedures, including detention and deportation, have been vulnerable to COVID-19 or whether officials have taken steps to mitigate the spread of this disease amongst detainees or other vulnerable non-citizens.

In the past, there have been numerous reports of immigration detention and deportation, sometimes in apparent violation of the country's international legal commitments. For example, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, in its report about its 2014 visit to the Seychelles, said that "information received indicate that foreign women and girls identified as prohibited immigrants are reportedly detained and summarily deported directly from the airport by immigration officials on suspicion of prostitution. In most cases, there is no identification process or proper assessment as to whether they were trafficked or whether their return would be safe. It is further alleged that the police are not informed about such cases until after the potential victims have left the country. Such lack of coordination in the process of identification of potential victims between immigration and police officials is a further cause of concern." The Special Rapporteur further noted, "The absence of shelters and psycho-social supports for victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking, perpetuates their victimization. There are no holding facilities for irregular migrants, who are currently and inappropriately kept in police cells. The speed with which prohibited migrants are deported may not allow for thorough investigations and possible identification of trafficked persons and traffickers. Labour inspections are limited by resources to effectively overseeing businesses."

According to Articles 22 and 23 of the Immigration Decree, immigration officers may detain persons who they suspect are “prohibited immigrants.” Article 19 provides various grounds for identifying a non-Seychellois as a “prohibited immigrant,” including: persons infected or inflicted with, or who are carriers of, a prescribed disease and who are capable of infecting others; any person whose permit under the Decree has expired or been revoked; any person who has concealed any information from an immigration officer which is relevant to their entry into, or stay in, the Seychelles; and any person who “in the opinion of the Director of Immigration is not of good character.” Article 27 also provides that any person who unlawfully enters the country will face a fine and three years’ imprisonment.

Detainees can be placed in specialised immigration detention facilities, prisons, or “any other place where facilities exist for the detention of persons” (Article 24 (2)). In 2016, only two years after the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons noted the lack of "holding facilities for irregular migrants," the country opened a dedicated immigration detention facility at Seychelles International Airport, with capacity for five persons. According to a Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) press release, the opening of this facility was prompted by an increase in the number of arrivals declared as prohibited immigrants.

In 2018, a local NGO--the Association for Rights Information and Democracy (ARID)--reported that it had recorded numerous cases of rights abuses against migrant workers in the country, including deplorable living conditions and delays in the payment of wages. The NGO called on the country’s employment department to monitor conditions and ensure that foreign workers are not subject to inhumane treatment. In its 2019 human rights report, the U.S. State Department noted that it had received credible reports of forced labour in the fishing, agriculture, and construction workers.

There appears to be limited publicly available information concerning COVID measures or outbreaks in prisons in the Seychelles. However, the Seychelles Prison Service does refer to special measures taken to protect staff and detainees, which appear to include setting up sanitising stations at the entrance to the country’s main prison (Montagne Posee), and temporarily suspending visits. UNDP reportedly also provided funding via its Prevention, Response and Early Recovery Project (PREP) to support high risk groups, including prisoners.

In early March 2021, President Wavel Ramkalawan announced that he expected 70 percent of the country’s 100,000 population to be vaccinated by mid March and that as such, the country’s borders could re-open on 25 March.


Last updated:

DETENTION, EXPULSION, AND INCARCERATION STATISTICS

Total number of detained minors
Not Available
2017
Criminal prison population
735
2014
Percentage of foreign prisoners
7.5
2014
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
799
2014

DEMOGRAPHICS AND IMMIGRATION-RELATED STATISTICS

Population
100,000
2020
96,000
2015
International migrants
12,926
2019
12,800
2015
International migrants as a percentage of the population
13.3
2015
Refugees
0
2016
25
2015
Stateless persons
0
2016

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
15,564
2014
Remittances to the country
14
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
9.7
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
64 (High)
2015

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
2017
Common law
2017
Core pieces of national legislation
Immigration Decree (1981) 2000
1981
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (2020)
2020
Immigration-status-related grounds
Detention of unauthorised persons by executive discretion
2021
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
2021
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Detention on health-related grounds
2021
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Yes (Yes)
2021
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Unauthorized entry (1095)
2021
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Victims of trafficking () Yes
2014
Accompanied minors () Yes
2014

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 13/19
Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1992
1992
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2011
2011
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 2001
2001
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
3/9
2017
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1992
1992
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1992
1992
APRW, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) 2006
2006
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children 2014
2014
2014
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children 34. To date, no victim of trafficking has been officially identified in Seychelles in spite of reported cases of possible trafficking in persons, primarily linked with migrant workers, and the fact that tourism remains one of the country’s main industries. ... However, information received indicate that foreign women and girls identified as prohibited immigrants are reportedly detained and summarily deported directly from the airport by immigration officials on suspicion of prostitution. In most cases, there is no identification process or proper assessment as to whether they were trafficked or whether their return would be safe. It is further alleged that the police are not informed about such cases until after the potential victims have left the country. Such lack of coordination in the process of identification of potential victims between immigration and police officials is a further cause of concern. ... 63. Moreover, victims of trafficking are not provided with comprehensive support. The absence of shelters and psycho-social supports for victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking, perpetuates their victimization. There are no holding facilities for irregular migrants, who are currently and inappropriately kept in police cells. The speed with which prohibited migrants are deported may not allow for thorough investigations and possible identification of trafficked persons and traffickers. Labour inspections are limited by resources to effectively overseeing businesses. ... . 70. With regard to the support services for victims of trafficking, Seychelles should: (a) Make greater efforts to protect and assist all victims of trafficking, with full respect for their human rights. It should create and support adequately resourced programmes and institutions to provide short- and long-term assistance to victims of trafficking. (b) Put in place a free 24 hour confidential hotline/helpline for reporting suspected cases of trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers. This should also be accessible to foreign victims of trafficking and serviced by multilingual staff who have received specialized training on trafficking in persons. (c) Establish a comprehensive and non-discriminatory compensation scheme for victims of trafficking at the national level, including a common fund for victims of trafficking in the event of the insolvency of the perpetrators. (d) Maintain close cooperation with the United Nations system, especially UNODC and IOM, for the identification and the safe return of trafficked victims to their country, having due regard to the need, if any, for international protection of victims. .... 73. With regard to the international, regional and bilateral frameworks, Seychelles should: (a) Ratify without delay ILO Convention No. 189 (2011) concerning decent work for domestic workers and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and other relevant ILO Conventions against forced labour and exploitation. (b) Strengthen partnerships with source countries in the region and cooperation, including through international, regional and bilateral agreements, in order to facilitate swift and coordinated responses, including through exchange of information, mutual legal assistance and safe returns. (c) Recognize the need for a foreign workforce and develop safe migration pathways for semi-skilled and unskilled workers by entering into bilateral agreements with countries of origin and ensuring that unscrupulous recruitment agencies do not take undue advantage of migrant workers in search of a livelihood. (d) The contribution of, and collaboration with civil society organizations, are crucial in the fight against human trafficking. In this regard, immediate steps should be taken to establish the necessary framework to enable civil society organizations to provide assistance, including shelter and counselling services to victims. 2014
2014
2014
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2011
2017
No 2016
2017

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Formally designated detention estate?
Yes (Any facility designated by relevant authority)
2021