Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions
Seychelles is a multiparty republic. In July 2006 President James Michel was elected in a process deemed credible by international observers, although there were reports of unfair campaign practices. The president and the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) dominate the country through a pervasive system of political patronage and control over government jobs, contracts, and resources. The balance of power between the ruling SPPF and the opposition Seychelles National Party remained the same after the May 2007 National Assembly elections. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, the following human rights problems were reported: prolonged pretrial detention; abuse of detainees; arbitrary arrest and detention; an inefficient and politically influenced court system; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, and assembly; official corruption; violence against women and children; violations and restrictions on labor rights; and discrimination against foreign workers.
Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government places priority on supporting the country's efforts to increase transparency and accountability. The United States also seeks to capitalize on recent cooperation between the government and the opposition by supporting efforts to strengthen civil society, through such actions as building the capacity of local human rights organizations and increasing freedoms of speech and press.
Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government seeks to maintain and expand its positive working relationship with the government, opposition, and civil society in an effort to facilitate further dialogue among key actors. The United States continues regular discussions with government officials and advocates for the further legitimization of the multiparty political system by meeting with both opposition parties to discuss economic and human rights issues. In January 2009 a U.S. official met with detainees from the Montagne Posee Prison and prison authorities to assess prison conditions. The United States also conducts public outreach and awareness campaigns that address human rights and public health issues. For example, in 2008 the U.S. Government sponsored a training workshop on women's rights and the African Charter on Human Rights, as well as an awareness campaign on the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to these efforts, in March and July 2008 the U.S. Government trained military officers on engaging with the public and collaborating with civil entities, as well as on rule of law.
In order to ensure that civil society provides input on policy formulation and implementation, the United States encourages the government to expand its policy consultation process. The U.S. Government has maintained diplomatic efforts to ensure that the parliament works in closer collaboration with NGOs and that it establishes an effective working relationship with civil society groups. In June 2008 the Liaison Unit for NGOs and the government signed a partnership agreement. This agreement established a framework for policy consultation with civil society. The United States underlined the need for an independent human rights commission to investigate abuse cases involving detainees and civilians during regular meetings with government officials, and in March 2009 a human rights commission was established to investigate human rights violations committed by security force members.
The United States also actively discusses with the government the importance of media and press freedoms. For example, in August and November 2008 and in January 2009, a U.S. official discussed the importance of press freedom with Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior officers, the Office of the Attorney General, parliament members, and opposition members. The U.S. Government's sustained dialogue with opposition party reporters has resulted in a greater awareness and reporting on human rights, particularly concerning reports of alleged prison detainee abuse.