Seychelles
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    Profile

    Seychelles

    Capital

    Victoria

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 1,703.39 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    97,625

    Area

    460 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    3.68

    Criminality score

    159th of 193 countries

    51st of 54 countries in Africa

    12th of 13 countries in Southern Africa

    Criminal market

    3.60

    Human trafficking

    4.00

    Human smuggling

    3.50

    Arms trafficking

    3.50

    Flora crimes

    4.00

    Fauna crimes

    4.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.00

    Heroin trade

    7.50

    Cocaine trade

    3.00

    Cannabis trade

    3.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    2.50

    Criminal actors

    3.75

    Mafia-style groups

    2.00

    Criminal networks

    4.50

    State-embedded actors

    4.50

    Foreign actors

    4.00

    4.58

    Resilience score

    106th of 193 countries

    17th of 54 countries in Africa

    5th of 13 countries in Southern Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    5.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    6.00

    National policies and laws

    5.50

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.50

    Anti-money laundering

    3.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    4.00

    4.58 3.75 3.60 4.58 3.75 3.60

    4.58

    Resilience score

    106th of 193 countries

    17th of 54 countries in Africa

    5th of 13 countries in Southern Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    5.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    6.00

    National policies and laws

    5.50

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.50

    Anti-money laundering

    3.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    3.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    4.00

    Analysis

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    People

    The Seychelles is a country of origin as well as a waypoint and a destination market for sex and labour trafficking victims. Evidence suggests that young children from the Seychelles and migrant women are sexually exploited within the country and some nationals are trafficked for forced labour in the Middle East. Foreign and migrant workers in the Seychelles also fall victim to labour trafficking in sectors such as domestic work, fisheries, agriculture and construction. The Seychelles is also a transit country for human-trafficking victims and Seychellois recruitment agencies often play a role in transnational human trafficking operations by recruiting workers in both the Seychelles and Madagascar.

    The Seychelles is a common destination for workers originating in South Asia, East Asia and East Africa. More than 20% of the Seychelles’ labour force comes from abroad, and there is evidence that many migrant workers are smuggled into the country. Countries that have been identified as popular source countries for irregular migrants and refugees smuggled into the Seychelles include India, Madagascar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Syria. Key industries in the Seychelles have become increasingly reliant upon migrant labour, which could increase the risk of people being smuggled into the country and exploited by recruitment agencies.

    Trade

    Firearms ownership and the number of illicit firearms in the Seychelles is low. Moreover, a reduction in numbers has been recorded, and violence in the country is often carried out with knives and machetes rather than with firearms. At the same time, however, the Seychelles has come to occupy an important role in global arms trafficking flows as Seychelles-registered shell corporations have reportedly been involved in facilitating the trafficking of arms between third countries. Cases from recent years include arms shipments involving sanctioned states like North Korea. Additionally, the illicit brokering of arms in the territorial waters of Seychelles is a substantial challenge.

    Environment

    Environmental criminal markets in Seychelles are generally limited in scope and scale. However, while it is mostly protected from the prevalent wildlife trafficking found on mainland Africa, the country is a source for the illicit reptile trade. The giant bronze gecko, endemic to the Seychelles, is only found on one island, and in very small numbers. Due to its rarity, it is regarded as one of the most prized pets by enthusiasts and is thus a target of wildlife traffickers. Another known problem is illegal fishing and lobster catching. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing causes substantial revenue loss and dramatic depletion in the lobster population. Chinese and Sri Lankan trawlers are often responsible for these crimes. Illegal felling of trees is believed to occur in unknown quantities, particularly on Mahé, but there is no evidence of organized crime. Additionally, poaching of the rare coco-de-mer seed has become more common in the Seychelles since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Drugs

    The Seychelles is mostly a destination market for heroin, but cannabis, cocaine and synthetic drugs are smuggled into the country as well. It is undergoing a worrying heroin epidemic with an extremely high percentage of the country’s working-age population consuming the drug. Indeed, the Seychelles could potentially be among the countries in the world with the highest per-capita consumers of heroin. Heroin is trafficked to East and Southern Africa or to Madagascar, and then transported to the Seychelles for consumption. Some shipments have also been imported from Southern Asia. Furthermore, there have been confirmed instances where shipments are dropped off in Seychellois waters by boats trafficking heroin from Iran and Pakistan to East Africa. Cannabis is the most widely consumed drug on the island and appears to be the second-most pervasive drug market. The domestic cannabis cultivation industry supplies some of the local demand, but cannabis is also imported from Madagascar, which is a major producer.

    Though the criminal market is still limited in size, cocaine, particularly crack, has reportedly increased in popularity. Reported seizures are primarily made at the airport, with some evidence suggesting that syndicates use drug ‘mules’ for transport. Actors trafficking cocaine to the Seychelles tend to be of Seychellois, Brazilian, Kenyan, Tanzanian or South African origin. Historically, there has been no major market for synthetic drugs, however, there is evidence that this is changing, with increasing consumption of the drug known as 'flakka', or 'K2'. Ecstasy is also available in the Seychelles but is not widely consumed. Overall, synthetic drug markets and trade seem relatively manageable, and major organized crime activity in this market is unconfirmed.

    Criminal Actors

    Criminal actors operating in the Seychelles are predominantly, though not exclusively, Seychellois. Loose criminal networks are engaged in criminal activities in Seychelles, with evidence suggesting that drug imports are largely controlled by a small number of Seychellois traffickers who reportedly recruit skippers and crew members of fishing vessels to pick up drug shipments at sea, and to bribe corrupt officials and police officers to ensure shipments are brought in without detection. Domestic drug retailing is controlled by different criminal groups and networks. These may have some level of hierarchy and organization, but this has been difficult to determine.

    Eden Island, a small enclave, which is home to a large community of South African expatriates, is cited as a base for a cocaine-importing network. While foreign networks are involved in trafficking to the islands via sea and air routes, their activity appears limited to shipments arranged by drug importers based in the Seychelles. On the other hand, illegal fishing is largely carried out by foreign vessels, primarily Chinese and Sri Lankan. It is likely that human trafficking, especially for the purposes of forced labour, would be carried out, in part, by foreign nationals residing in the country. Verifiable accounts of involvement of state officials in crime or the facilitation of crime are not prevalent in the Seychelles. Nevertheless, there are various allegations of bribery and collusion between actors in the criminal drug markets and politics.

    Leadership and governance

    The Seychellois government is vocal and open about its stance on organized crime, particularly regarding piracy and drug trafficking. In response to the dramatic rise in heroin consumption, the government has taken significant steps and allocated resources to manage the issue. However, corruption has often been an impediment to the effective fight against organized crime and the country's international positioning on drug trafficking has not manifested in domestic anti-corruption initiatives.

    The Seychelles has ratified a number of relevant international treaties pertaining to organized crime with the notable exception of the Firearms Protocol of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). The government has committed to international cooperation against organized crime and implemented joint anti-trafficking measures in areas such as wildlife crime, drug trafficking, anti-piracy and maritime security. The Seychelles houses an EU-supported Regional Coordination Cooperation Centre which brings together the Western Indian Ocean region and European states for coordination on maritime crime, including drug trafficking. The country has also historically cooperated with the UNODC and Combined Task Force 150 on initiatives to counter piracy and drug trafficking in the region. Cooperation initiatives have also been carried out with other global naval powers on maritime security including the US, French and Indian navies. The Seychelles has an extradition treaty in place with the US.

    It also has a relatively strong legal framework in place for combating some forms of organized crime. With regard to drugs, the legal framework focuses on harm reduction and recovery for users, while shifting the punitive aspect towards traffickers and actors profiting from criminal markets. Anti-human trafficking legislation is in place but is not adequately capable of tackling the labour trafficking issues faced by the country. Separate legislation exists for combating money laundering and asset seizure, but money laundering remains a systemic vulnerability.

    Criminal justice and security

    The Seychellois judiciary is, for the most part, independent and able to provide criminal defendants’ guarantees of due process. The courts have been able to secure a number of convictions for organized crime in the last number of years. However, the judicial process is slow and court cases can take years to complete. The Seychelles also suffers a high incarceration rate and prison overcrowding. The police force was reorganized in 2017 and now contains a specialized Anti-Narcotics Bureau. Seychellois law enforcement, particularly the coastguard, enjoys substantial international support and is a beneficiary of foreign assistance and capacity building from partners abroad. Furthermore, the country has passed legislation to establish an intelligence service with a mandate to fight transnational organized crime. At the same time, Seychellois law enforcement is overstretched and often lacks the capacity to monitor and enforce the law across the country’s large maritime territories. The greatest obstacle to countering drug trafficking, however, is corruption at both the lower and higher ranks of the police.

    Economic and financial environment

    The country’s economy is one of the strongest in the region, but economic freedom remains restricted. The public sector, which accounts for around 40% of employment, is quite inefficient and the formal labour market is not fully established. This can enable the exploitation of foreign workers. The Seychelles is an offshore secrecy jurisdiction and well-known tax haven, which makes it a very desirable country to register shell companies and funnel illicit wealth. The country’s financial sector is believed to hold numerous offshore accounts containing illicit gains. In 2020, the Seychelles was listed on the EU's list of non-cooperative jurisdictions because of concerns that the country's policy environment enables tax fraud and evasion, tax avoidance, money laundering and/or terrorist financing. It is also largely non-cooperative with regard to beneficial ownership and other key areas of financial transparency. Seychellois shell companies have been linked to multiple investigations into international corruption and organized crime. Legal and institutional reforms have been made to the country’s AML/CFT framework. While this has increased the Seychelles AML/CFT capacity, it continues to have significant flaws in its framework for combating the flow of dirty money, and authorities depend on foreign expertise to implement the AML/CFT framework.

    Civil society and social protection

    The government has dedicated significant resources to rehabilitation and health-oriented policy responses and initiatives to curtail the rise in heroin use. Evidence suggests that the effects of these responses are positive. On the other hand, victims of human trafficking have not experienced the same level of support and significant gaps in the victim and witness protection programmes of such crimes persist. A number of measures are in place for organized crime prevention in the Seychelles, but prevention efforts are lacking in areas such as human trafficking. Civil society is robust and the state does for the most part upholds citizens’ right to organize and their freedom to assemble. Civil society organizations and NGOs have been successful in holding the government to account and have often intervened in matters where the government is under-resourced or has failed to respond effectively. Critical journalism and free media is mostly respected, but media pluralism is limited, self-censorship is common and, as a consequence, media coverage tends to steer clear of controversial topics such as corruption.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.