Mrs Samia Govinden was sworn in as the new Senior Magistrate by Chief Justice Perera on Friday, 14th November 2008. She will now sit before the Magistrate's "A" court in Victoria.
Prior to this appointment, Mrs Govinden was serving as a Magistrate in the "B" court of Victoria. The move comes after the former Senior Magistrate's contract was not renewed.
Mrs Govinden graduated from the University of Mauritius and completed the Mauritian Bar exams. She had served previously as a State Counsel and then as the Registrar General.
The Magistrates deal with lesser criminal offences and civil suits where the amounts claimed does not exceed SR 25,000. The key differences between a Magistrate and the Senior Magistrate is that the Senior Magistrate may pronounced custodial sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment whilst a Magistrate may pronouned custodial sentences of up to only 7 years imprisonment. Furthermore, by convention, the Senior Magistrate also assumes the roles of Chairman of the Juvenile Court and the Rent Control Board.
Mrs Govinden becomes the first Seychellois woman Senior Magistrate but contrary to the Nation, she is not the first Seychellois woman Magistrate. Furthermore, her appointment does not help clear the backlog of cases as although she will now take on all the cases before the "A" court, she also leaves behind the bulk of cases that were set before her in the Magistrate's "B" court. As the situation stands, another Magistrate will have to be appointed to fill up the "B" court vacancy.
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