Seychelles Visit of ‘Child Soldiers Initiative’ Representative

‘Somali youths held in Seychelles well taken care of’

Juvenile Somalis implicated in piracy activities and being held at the Montagne Posée prisons are being well taken care of.

Carl Conradi, programme officer for ‘The Romeo Dallaire, Child Soldiers Initiative’ told the press on Friday at the end of a fact-finding mission here.

He has thanked everyone for their warm reception on his fact-finding visit and has also thanked Home Affairs and Transport Minister Joël Morgan for approving the visit and providing access to the Montagne Posée prison.

Mr Conradi has also commended the government of Seychelles, in particular the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Transport, the Seychelles Prison Service, the Judiciary, and the UNODC for the open and transparent manner in which Somali pirates are managed and in particular the approach taken by competent authorities when Somalis who are either juveniles or who are suspected to be.

“There are many positives and best practices I have seen being applied here by the Seychelles authorities and they are compliant with UNODC protocols. Our work as well at ‘Child Soldiers Initiative’ is to work with and bring the two UN agencies – Unicef and the UNODC – together as regards to their own policies relating to juveniles,” said Mr Conradi, who suggested that there were differences which needed to be addressed.

Raymond St Ange, security consultant in the Office of the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, said: “It was a pleasure for us to accommodate and have over Mr Conradi whose office had approached the Seychelles a few weeks back wanting to organise a visit here. Mr Conradi was apprised of the situation here in Seychelles to include recent judgments of the courts regarding convictions of Somalis and their juvenile status, and how we are at this time managing them, bearing in mind their welfare and safety while in Seychelles and the need to get them to their identified homes.”

Following meetings with Somali prisoners at the Montagne Posée prison on Thursday March 13, 2014, Mr Conradi said he recognised the unique and complex situation that the Seychelles authorities were in considering the very tight clan structure the Somali society had, and that permitting elder Somalis to socialise in a controlled setting with juvenile Somalis, while far from their own lands, could be seen as needed, considering the circumstances these Somalis find themselves in.

Mr Conradi was on a three-country mission visit, having visited Ghana, Kenya and finally Seychelles before returning to Halifax in Canada, where the Child Soldiers Initiative is based.

Findings of his visit to Seychelles will be reported back to the Seychelles authorities once approved with a possible follow-up visit planned.

The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative was founded by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire who was first exposed to the use of child soldiers during the 1994 Rwandan genocide (where he served as Force Commander of the UN mission). He subsequently committed the rest of his life to ending the use of children in armed conflict.

He founded The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, at Dalhousie University, to break new ground in halting this atrocity. The Dallaire Initiative partners liaise with military, police and peacekeeping forces, equipping them with tools to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.

Source: Seychelles Nation



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