Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Judge Gaswaga sworn in for a second term

Judge Duncan Gaswaga was sworn in for a second term as a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Seychelles yesterday, on the 10th day of January 2011. The Nation has a front page article on the matter which you may read by clicking here.

According to news reports, Judge Gaswaga was sworn in for a second term of only 2 year duration. According to the Constitution, terms can be up to 7 years in duration, however, in practice, the Government appoints Judges on 5 year terms.

According to the news reports, the exceptional circumstances which merits Judge Gaswaga's re-appointment is that he is a "good judge" and that there is a the great number of partly heard cases before him. It goes on to state that these cases would have to be re-started if Judge Gaswaga was not re-appointed. This is a fallacy. According to section 132(3) of the Constitution, a judge may stay on as one in order to complete the cases before him. There was therefore no need to re-appoint Judge Gaswaga if that was the case. News reports also noted that Judge Gaswaga is the head of the criminal division of the Supreme Court, a division that comprises of only 1 or 2 other judges. Furthermore, apparent merit was given to the notion that he contributed greatly to the reform in the Seychelles criminal justice system. Interestingly, no mention is made of the alleged reforms that were made. In the meantime, back on planet Earth, Indian Ocean, Seychelles, it is common knowledge that the criminal justice system is in tatters.

The local courts have never ruled on the meaning of "exceptional circumstances", but if we are to take the meaning given by the press, who would have gathered the same either from the judiciary or the Constitutional Appointments Authority, then, being a "good judge" and having a case in front of you qualifies as "exceptional circumstances". What does "good judge" mean? And surely every single Supreme Court Judge has at least one partly heard case in his calendar. Therefore, every single foreign judge would qualify for re-appointment under this test of "exceptional circumstances".

The Robing Room is the official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website (sites.google.com/site/theseychelleslegalenvironment), the only website about the Seychelles Legal Environment that is constantly updated.

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