Seychelles Country Overview

Politics

Seychelles is a democratic republic located off of the southeastern coast of Africa. Danny Faure has been president of the country since October of 2016, after former president James Alix Michel stepped down due to a change in constitutional law surrounding presidential term limits. There was a peaceful transition of power.[1]

Economy

Seychelles is classified by the World Bank as a high income economy.[2] According to the World Bank, Seychelles’ economy expanded strongly in 2015, growing by 4.3 percent. The tourism sector is a primary driver of economic growth in the country. The Seselwa GDP has seen a slowdown in growth since 2009.[3] Services represent 85.5 percent of the country’s GDP, industry represents 13.9 percent, and agriculture represents 2.6 percent.[4] The country’s primary agricultural products are coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava, copra, bananas, and tuna.[5]

Social/Human Development

Seychelles has no indigenous population. The five groups represented in the Seselwa population are mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab. The primary spoken languages are Seychellois Creole, English, and French. The Seselwa fertility rate sits just below replacement, at 1.9 children per woman. This population decline poses a threat to the sustainability of government pensions and universal healthcare.[6]

Seychelles has low poverty rates in comparison to other sub-Saharan African countries. The rate of extreme poverty (below USD 1.90 a day) sits at 1.1 percent, and moderate poverty (below USD 3.10 per day) at 2.5 percent according to 2013 figures.[7]

U.S. Department of State TIP Report Summary (2017)

U.S. Department of State TIP Ranking: Tier 2

The Trafficking in Persons Report notes trafficking or risk of trafficking in the fishing, fish processing, and construction sectors, especially among migrant workers.

Migrant and Other Vulnerable Populations

13.3 percent of Seychelles’ population is comprised of migrants.[8] The most common sending countries for migrants to Seychelles include India, Madagascar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius.[9]

The most common destination countries for migrants from Seychelles is the United Kingdom, followed by Australia, Canada, Italy, and South Africa.[10]

Exports and Trade

Seychelles’ top exports in 2016 were preparations of meat, fish and crustaceans, natural or cultured pearls, mineral fuels and oils, residues and waste from the food industries.[11]

 

The top importers of all goods from Seychelles via mirror data include France, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, Italy, and Japan.[12]

Trafficking in Persons Risk Factors Analysis

Legal/Policy Risk Factors

LEVEL OF LEGAL PROTECTION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Freedom of Association

The constitution and the law in Seychelles allow for some degree of freedom of association. The U.S. Department of State has reported that those in civil service do not participate in opposition activities due to fear of reprisal from the government. The law also allows workers (outside of police, military, prison, and firefighting personnel) the right to join unions and collectively bargain. The registrar has the legal power to deny a union government registration. The government has the right to call a “60 day cooling off period” if workers do vote for a strike within a union. The government can declare a strike unlawful if it would “endanger public order or the national economy.” The law prevents antiunion discrimination, but does not explicitly give foreign workers the right to join unions. In the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ), the government does not require adherence to labor and collective bargaining laws.  The Employment Tribunal deals with private sector labor disputes, the Public Services Appeals Board deals with public sector labor disputes, and the Financial Services Agency handles labor disputes in the SITZ. The U.S. Department of State has reported that the government does not enforce freedom of association laws effectively and does not always respect the right of workers to participate in union activity.[13]

Working Conditions

In the public sector (where more than 50 percent of the labor force is employed) the government set a minimum hourly wage of SCR 33.30 (USD 2.46). The maximum workweek varies by sector, but ranges from 45 to 55 hours per week. All full-time workers are legally provided a one hour break each day, and 21 days of paid annual leave (including overtime). Overtime pay is legally provided for up to 60 hours per month. The law allows citizen workers to remove themselves from dangerous or unhealthy work situations, and to report those situations to the Health and Safety Commission of the Department of Employment. The U.S. Department of State has reported that the government generally abides by these standards but does not enforce them in all sectors, and that foreign workers (primarily in commercial fishing and construction) do not have the same legal protections as citizens.[14]

Discrimination

The Seselwa law prohibits discrimination with respect to employment based on race, sex, religion, gender, political opinion, national origin or citizenship, social origin, disability, language, sexual orientation or gender identity, HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases, or social status. The U.S. Department of State has reported that the government effectively enforces these laws and that employment discrimination generally does not occur in practice. Women must receive equal pay for equal work.[15]

Forced Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, but enforcement has been reported to be ineffective. There were credible reports of forced labor in 2016, but no cases were prosecuted. The government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.[16]

Child Labor

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15, except for “children who are employed part time in light work prescribed by law without harm to their health, morals, or education.” There is no minimum age for hazardous work, although the law does provide a list of hazardous jobs in which children under 15 may not participate. The U.S. Department of State has reported that the government has generally enforced these laws.[17]

Civil Society Organizations

The U.S. Department of State has reported that the government officials “generally were cooperative and responsive to the view of international NGOs.”[18] Freedom House corroborates this statement, reporting that “human rights groups and other nongovernmental organizations operate in the country.”[19]

Immigration Policies Limiting the Employment Options or Movement of Migrants

There are no reported discriminatory immigration laws in Seychelles. The U.S. Department of State did report that The Seychelles Trade Zone Act supersedes many immigration laws, and that immigration laws are not often respected in the SITZ.[20]

Ratification of ILO Conventions Related to Human Trafficking or Rights of Workers and Migrants

[21]

Use of Export Processing Zones (EPZs):

The U.S. Department of State reports that the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ) Act of 1995 created international trade zones, which act as both free ports and export processing zones. These zones include: exemptions from customs duties on capital equipment to be used in SITZ, exemption from business tax, trade tax and withholding tax, exemption from social security contributions, exemption from fees with respect to work permits, entitlement to full foreign ownership. The Seychelles Financial Service Authority regulates the SITZ.[22]

In the SITZ, the government does not require that companies adhere to labor, property tax, and business or immigration law. It has been reported that companies in the SITZ paid foreign workers lower wages, delayed their salaries, forced them to work longer hours, and provided them with substandard housing.[23]

Political Risk Factors

POLITICAL INSTABILITY OR CONFLICT

Seychelles scores a 59.4 in the 2017 Fragile States Index. Seychelles has seen an 11.9 point decrease in their score since 2011, signaling positive change. Seychelles is ranked 125 out of 178 countries.[24] Seychelles’s percentile rank for political stability and absence of violence/terrorism was 68.10 on the Work Bank’s 2015 Worldwide Governance Indicators report.[25]

LEVEL OF CRIME AND VIOLENCE

Seychelles was given a score on the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index of African Governance Safety & Rule of Law category of 74.1 with 0 being the lowest performing and 100 being the highest performing. Seychelles ranks 5 out of 54 countries.[26]

STATE PERSECUTION

The U.S. Department of State has reported that police brutality is an issue in arrests and that impunity is a concern within the security forces.[27]

LEVEL OF CORRUPTION

The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index scores Seychelles as a 55 out of 100, where a 0 signals “Highly Corrupt” and a 100 signals “Very Clean.” Seychelles is ranked 40 out of 176 on that index.[28] The U.S. Department of State reports that the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators note corruption as a problem.[29]

Freedom House reports that government corruption is centered on a lack of transparency surrounding privatization and allocation of government-owned land, as well as international financial transactions. They state that the “government provided regulatory cover for foreign individuals and businesses seeking to hide or protect assets from their home government.”[30]

Socio-Economic Risk Factors

LEVEL OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Seychelles is scored in the high human development category, according to the UN Human Development Index, with a rank of 63 out of 188 countries and a score of 0.782. Seychelles’ human development score is higher than its southern island neighbors, Madagascar, Comoros, and Mauritius, as well as its coastal neighbors, Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia.[31] 

LEVEL AND EXTENT OF POVERTY

The rate of those living on under USD 3.1 per day was 3.5 percent in 2013.[32] The United Nations Human Development Programme did not rank Seychelles for Inequality Adjusted HDI in 2015. Seychelles’ gross national income (GNI) per capita was USD 15,410 in 2016, this represents a greater than 100 percent increase in GNI per capita since 2000, when the GNI per capita was USD 7,290.[33]

DEGREE OF GENDER INEQUALITY

As reported by the United Nations Development Programme, Seychelles has an adolescent birth rate of 57.4 per 1,000 births and women hold 43.8 percent of seats in parliament.[34]

The U.S. Department of State reports that there are no laws preventing women from fully engaging in politics, although women lost 7 of the 14 seats they previously held in the National Assembly in the recent elections. Rape, spousal rape, and domestic abuse are all criminal offences.[35]

Sexual harassment is prohibited under Seselwa law, but there is no penalty within the penal code.[36]

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

The country experiences occasional droughts, and the water supply is dependent on catchments to collect rainwater. Droughts can threaten potable water supplies.[37]

Documented Trafficking and Trafficking Risk in Key Commodity Supply Chains

Seafood

SEAFOOD OVERVIEW

Artisanal, semi-industrial and industrial fishing operations are active in Seychelles’ fisheries. Industrial fishing activities are primarily carried out by foreign purse-seine vessels fishing for tuna. There is an on-shore fish processing sector, including canning for the export market.[38] Because the sector is heavily dependent on tuna fishing, initiatives aimed at slowing the overfishing of tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean have had economic impacts for the country and workforce.[39]

DOCUMENTED TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS RISK FACTORS IN SEAFOOD PRODUCTION

According to the U.S. Department of State 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, forced labor or forced child labor is reported in the fishing sector in Seychelles.[40] The report describes migrant workers from China, Kenya, Madagascar and Southeast Asian countries in the fishing sector and notes NGO reports that workers are exploited in fish processing plants and onboard foreign vessels. Workers on foreign vessels may experience non-payment of wages and physical abuse.[41] Serious abuses of workers from Southeast Asian countries – Cambodia in particular – have been documented on Thai vessels operating in Indian Ocean waters between Mauritius and the Seychelles. The lack of adequate government patrol in the area been appealing to “reefer” vessels that may stay in the area for up to 18 months, relying on transshipment for supplies and to offload their catch.[42] A 2016 Greenpeace report documented how Cambodian workers were charged high fees by recruiters and given advances to induce indebtedness. The workers lacked any written employment arrangement but, in some cases, were verbally promised a lump sum of earnings after working for a two-year period. Workers were subject to extreme abuse and health and safety hazards while on board.[43]

Related Resources

Resources for Understanding Legal and Policy-Related Risk Factors

Endnotes

[1] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Seychelles. May 2017. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/se.html

[2] World Bank. Overview: Seychelles. 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/seychelles/overview

[3] World Bank. Seychelles Data. 2017. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=SC

[4] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Seychelles. May 2017.

[5] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Seychelles. May 2017.

[6] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Seychelles. May 2017.

[7] World Bank. Overview: Seychelles. 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/seychelles/overview

[8] International Organization for Migration. Seychelles. http://www.iom.int/countries/seychelles

[9] United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. International Migrant Stock 2015: By Destination and Origin. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/estimates15.shtml 

[10] United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. International Migrant Stock 2015: By Destination and Origin. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/estimates15.shtml 

[11] International Trade Centre. Trade Map. www.trademap.org.

[12] International Trade Centre. Trade Map. www.trademap.org.

[13] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[14] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[15] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[16] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271339.pdf

[17] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[18] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[19] Freedom House. Seychelles Overview. 2016. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/seychelles

[20] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[21] International Labour Organization (ILO). Ratifications for Seychelles. 2016. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:11200:0::NO::P11200_COUNTRY_ID:103090

[22] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Investment Climate Statement. 2016. https://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ics/2016investmentclimatestatements/index.htm#wrapper

[23] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[24] The Fund for Peace. “Fragile State Index: Seychelles.” 2017. http://fundforpeace.org/fsi/country-data/

[25] World Bank. Worldwide Governance Indicators. 2015. http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/#reports

[26] Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). 2015. http://mo.ibrahim.foundation/iiag/

[27] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[28] Transparency International. Corruption Perceptions Index 2015: Seychelles. 2015. https://www.transparency.org/country/

[29] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[30] Freedom House. Seychelles Overview. 2016. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/seychelles

[31] United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Reports: International Human Development Indicators. March 2017. http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries 

[32] World Bank. Overview: Seychelles. 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/seychelles/overview

[33] World Bank. Seychelles Data. 2017. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=SC

[34] United Nations Development Programme. Gender Inequality Index. 2015. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/GII

[35] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[36] U.S. Department of State. 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Seychelles. 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

[37] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Seychelles. May 2017. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/se.html

[38] United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The Republic of Seychelles General Geographic and Economic Data. 2005. http://www.fao.org/fi/oldsite/FCP/en/SYC/profile.htm

[39] Magnan, Salifa and Betymie Bonnelame. “Fishing Industry: Seychelles’ economy will suffer if tuna catch rules are followed.” Seychelles News Agency. March 18,  2017. http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/6954/Fishing+industry+Seychelles%27+economy+will+suffer+if+tuna+catch+rules+are+followed

[40] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf

[41] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf

[42] Hodal, Kate. “Thai fishing industry: abuse continue in unpoliced waters, Greenpeace claims.” The Guardian. December 14, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/dec/15/thai-fishing-industry-human-rights-abuses-continue-in-unpoliced-waters-greenpeace-claims

[43] Greenpeace. Turn the Tide: Human Rights Abuses and Illegal Fishing in Thailand’s Overseas Fishing Industry. 2016. http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/PageFiles/745330/Turn-The-Tide.pdf