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[Exclusive] The Suspects Transfer Agreement with Seychelles

(B2) After the agreement Force Protection SOFA, the text of the agreement on the transfer of pirates between the government of Seychelles and the European Union appears to be ready. I was able to examine it. It looks like the one signed with Kenya.

Remember that this agreement covers all countries providing a contingent to EUNAVFOR, whether or not they belong to the European Union (1) (we speak of “contributing State”). Here are the main elements of the agreement.

Persons transferred

Normally only the " persons suspected of intending to commit, committing or having committed acts of piracy on the high seas or armed robbery in territorial waters et archipelagic islands of the Seychelles, and which are retained by EUNAVFOR ».

The principle is that " Seychelles accepts, upon request from EUNAVFOR, the transfer of persons detained by the latter and property seized by it in connection with armed robbery (…) and piracy, and hand over the persons and property concerned to their authorities competent for the purposes of investigation and prosecution. »

“EUNAVFOR only transfers people to the relevant law enforcement authorities in Seychelles. »

« The Parties shall treat transferred persons, both before and after transfer, humanely and in accordance with international human rights obligations, including the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, the prohibition of arbitrary detention and the requirement of a fair trial. »

Rights granted to the suspect (guilty)

These are the principles usually recognized by international and European human rights conventions.

1. ' detention in adequate premises, sufficient food, access to medical care and (the right to) observe one's religion.

2. “translation without delay before a judge or other authority empowered by law to exercise judicial functions, who shall decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if such detention is unlawful.

3. “right to be tried within a reasonable time or released.

4. “right to (have) his case heard fairly and publicly by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, established by law, which will decide on the merits of any criminal charge brought against him.

5. “presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law

6. “right, in full equality, at least to:
a) be informed, as soon as possible, in a language that he understands and in detail, of the nature and reasons for the accusation brought against him;
(b) have the time and facilities necessary to prepare his defense and communicate with the counsel of his choice; be tried without undue delay;
c) be present at the trial and defend herself or have the assistance of a defender of her choice;
(d) if he does not have a defender, be informed of his right to have one, and, whenever the interests of justice so require, be automatically assigned a defender, free of charge, if she does not have the means to pay him;
(e) examine or cause to be examined all the evidence held against him, including the sworn statements of the witnesses who made the arrest, and obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him ;
f) be assisted free of charge by an interpreter if he does not understand or speak the language used at the hearing;
g) not be forced to testify against herself or to confess guilt.

7. “(right) to have the conviction and sentence reviewed or judged on appeal by a higher court, in accordance with the laws of Seychelles. (…)
“No transferred person may be charged with, convicted of, or subjected to the death penalty any offense punishable by the death penalty. »

EUNAVFOR is closely associated with the procedure.

“1. Any transfer shall be the subject of an appropriate document signed by a representative of EUNAVFOR and by a representative of the competent law enforcement authorities of Seychelles.

2. EUNAVFOR provides Seychelles with the detention file of any transferred person. This file contains, as far as possible, information concerning the state of health of the person transferred during their detention and specifies the time of their transfer to the Seychelles authorities, the reason for their detention, the time and the place of the start of his detention and all decisions taken concerning his detention.

3. Seychelles is responsible for keeping an accurate record of all persons transferred and in particular, but not exclusively, for keeping a file concerning the property seized, the state of health of these persons, the location of their places of detention, the charges brought against them and all important decisions taken in the prosecution and trial of them.

4. These files are made available to representatives of the EU and EUNAVFOR upon request in writing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles.

5. Seychelles shall notify EUNAVFOR of the place of detention of any person transferred under this Agreement, any deterioration in their state of health and any allegations of inappropriate treatment. Representatives of the EU and EUNAVFOR shall have access to persons transferred under this Agreement for as long as they are held in detention, and have the right to question them.

6. At their request, national and international humanitarian agencies are authorized to visit persons transferred under this agreement.

7. In order for EUNAVFOR to be able to assist Seychelles in a timely manner by calling EUNAVFOR witnesses and providing relevant evidence, Seychelles shall notify EUNAVFOR of its intention to initiate proceedings criminal offense against any transferred person, as well as the timetable for the communication of evidence and the hearing of witnesses.

(...) 8. Seychelles will not transfer a transferred person to another State without the prior written consent of EUNAVFOR.»

EUNAVFOR support

« Within the limits of its means and capabilities, EUNAVFOR makes every effort to provide all necessary assistance to Seychelles so that those transferred are subject to investigation and prosecution. In particular, and in accordance with the applicable legislation of the Contributing State, EUNAVFOR shall hand over detention files, process all evidence in accordance with the requirements of the competent authorities of Seychelles; endeavor to produce testimonies or sworn statements from relevant EUNAVFOR personnel; returns all relevant seized property to its possession.”

Coming into force

The agreement is “applied on a provisional basis from the date of its signature"And"remains in force until the end of the operation, as notified by EUNAVFOR“. (…)

After the operation

« Once the operation is completed, all the rights conferred on EUNAVFOR by virtue of (the) agreement may be exercised by any person or entity designated by the State exercising the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This designated person or entity may be, among others, a diplomatic or consular agent of that State accredited to Seychelles. After the end of the operation, all notifications to be made to EUNAVFOR under this Agreement shall be transmitted to the State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.'

Language

The agreement will be drawn up in all 22 official EU languages ​​(including Danish which does not take part in defense operations but not Gaelic!). “All texts being equally authentic.” according to the principle in force at the level of the European Union (but hello in case of interpretation problems).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)


NATO weakness, European strength

Without wishing to hurt the proponents of the ultimate armed force, we can also point out that NATO has still not signed a pirate transfer agreement, nor CTF 151. I am not entirely sure that they have the legal capacity to do so. Only individual states have done so (the United States in particular).

The strength of the EU is precisely to save Member States (and those participating in the operation) from having to negotiate and assume management of an international agreement. That’s a hell of a lot of energy savings. And a guarantee of speed of implementation.


  1. Note: Which is, in my opinion, a certain legal innovation. Since an international agreement signed by an international organization thus applies to countries and armed forces which are not members. This shows that “soft power” still has an element of power.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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