The judiciary of Seychelles has launched a new website, providing access to the judgments of its courts as well as giving the judiciary a more human face. It is intended to help the public with provide resources as well as information. Everything the public needs to know about accessing legal aid, for example, can be found there, while for lawyers all the Practice Directions now become available in a single place
Take a tour of the new website
The new website is headed by a photograph of the Palais de Justice of Seychelles and it is enough to make anyone keen for a judicial appointment there or even just a visit: an elegant white building, with tall columns, palm trees and a general warm sense of calm.
But the site is not just an advertisement for the charms of Seychelles, its intention is more significant than that. It is intended to be both a resource and a guide for all court users.
Readers can access the decisions of all the courts of Seychelles, with a seamless transition to SeyLII, the Seychelles presence in the AfricanLII community.
Users are also able to download forms and access legislation as well, while for lawyers, Practice Directions will now be available, on the website, all in one place.
From the point of view of journalists writing about the courts, as well as those appearing before them, there’s another useful new feature: portraits of all the judges and magistrates in the jurisdiction are available, clearly labelled. For someone appearing before one of the courts or tribunals it will surely help relieve the stress of such an event to know, beforehand, what the presiding officer looks like.
There is also a link to questions that members of the public, litigating at the courts, might need answered.
One of these reads: Can I come and see the judge who is handling my case? No, is the answer. ‘Any queries must be directed in writing through your legal representative. A judicial officer will not discuss a matter with the litigants.’ Then, even more sternly, this: ‘Please also note that attempting to influence, intimidate, coerce, harass a judicial officer is a serious offence.’
Speaking at the official launch of the website, Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey said that an independent and impartial judiciary was a cornerstone of the rule of law and of a democratic state. It protected human rights and the liberty of the people and provided a check on other branches of government.
But the ability of the judiciary to achieve all this depended on ensuring that the judiciary was itself accountable. ‘This is in part achieved (by) ensuring broad access to judicial information. The ability to monitor the advancement of proceedings, access good quality legal databases, and the availability of public versions of judgments ensure public awareness and scrutiny, and enhances the accountability of the whole judicial system.’
She added that the judiciary of the Seychelles strong supported the principles of open justice and had always subscribed to this principle. Technology brought new ways in which to ensure improved access to information.
‘The judiciary website is long overdue, and we are grateful to SeyLII, which is an important digital platform for judiciary information, and will complement the new judiciary website.’