Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, but according to media reports in 2016, police and National Drug Enforcement Agency officers beat and abused persons, including detainees, to force confessions. Unlike in previous years, there were no cases of abuse by the police.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions improved during the year, due to less crowding following a presidential order to release 82 prisoners as well as the implementation of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis.
There were reports that the level of inmate indiscipline increased in prison with rampant use of drugs. On June 30, Seychelles Nation reported remand detainees rioted and wrecked a new facility at Bois de Rose Avenue built to separate condemned prisoners from detainees awaiting trial. There were reports that violence among inmates increased. Prisoners operated a scam whereby they extorted money from family members of fellow inmates who pretended their lives were in danger. Inmate use of mobile phones was common despite authorities’ use of jammers at Montagne Posee Prison. On March 17, Today in Seychelles reported on a press conference by the police and prison authorities warning the public against frauds to extort money from individuals with family members in prison or connected to certain court cases.
A high-level committee on prison reforms and rehabilitation was formed during the year chaired by the vice president and the speaker of the National Assembly. The committee recommended the closure of the outlying island prison of Marie-Louise. The high-security prison for drug traffickers was closed and decommissioned on September 30 when the four remaining prisoners there were transferred to the other island prison of Coetivy.
Physical Conditions: Prison conditions and overcrowding in Montagne Posee Prison, the main prison, significantly improved during the year. In June 2016 amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, which reduced the prison’s population; the reduction continued during the year. A work release program that allowed prisoners to work during the day either with a stevedoring company at the port or landscaping in the streets of the capital, then return to prison at night, continued.
A separate holding facility for pretrial male detainees opened on Bois de Rose Avenue at the former Coast Guard base. Female pretrial detainees continued to be held at Montagne Posee in the same block as convicted female prisoners. Juvenile pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners were held together with adult prisoners. On August 23, Seychelles Nation reported that on the day prior to his scheduled release, a Honduran national was found hanged in his cell at Montagne Posee. Following a police inquiry, prison authorities called the death a suicide.
Administration: An ombudsman may make recommendations to the National Assembly and the president to improve conditions for prisoners and detainees but had no authority to enforce such recommendations. Although the ombudsman is required to issue an annual report on inmate complaints and on investigations into human rights abuses and corruption, the ombudsman has not done so for at least three years. Statistics on inmate complaints filed with the National Human Rights Commission were unavailable at year’s end.
Independent Monitoring: The government generally permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by local and international human rights groups. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) visited Montagne Posee Prison during the year. Several religious groups also visited the prison.