Law and disorder

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More than the flagrant discrepancy between facts and rhetoric, it is the nonchalance with which the government in general – and the minister mentor in particular – treats every important issue that is so disheartening.

Drug abuse is not about a bunch of junkies shooting up. It is about a life of dependence, decimated families, broken lives, grieving people and unspeakable sadness. No one with a heart and a moral conscience should overlook that. It is also indirectly about increasing crime. Another reason why political leaders should not be casual about fighting the problem.

The minister mentor’s answer in parliament on Tuesday to the leader of the opposition’s question about drugs and crime is not only very insensitive but clearly displays a lack of interest in dealing with the problem. I wonder whether the mentor – a grandfather who should be thinking about children and grandchildren who could be his – heard himself when he arrogantly announced that “Everything is being done and I can’t see what we can do more.” A perfect government that has nothing to learn from anyone! “Rehabilitation is being done, the police do not have the tools to fight the new drugs, the court and DPP take their time, we will continue sentencing for drug possession, in fact the sentences should become even harsher and, if it were up to me, I would have introduced the death penalty.”  That’s it. All worked out! Killing suspected drug dealers, pushers and even plain users, producing dead people and making way for a new generation of pushers and addicts.

Never did it occur to the minister mentor to take a hard look at the real issues leading to drugs: unemployment – made much worse by systematically favouring family members and cronies – despondency, boredom, lack of perspective and hope, poverty… Didn’t the minister mentor himself not warn our diaspora not to come back home as there are not enough jobs for them? He might also benefit by spending some time thinking about those who are supposed to enforce laws and maintain security. Our police force. For a while, we have been sounding the alarm bell about the horrifying interference of ministers in our major institutions, particularly the police, which has been reduced to a supine institution receiving its marching orders directly from ministers. Mauritius has not forgotten the inordinate time the police was made to spend on a large-scale witch-hunt instead of serving the nation they are paid to serve. Nor will we forget the resources deployed to secure provisional charges against hapless citizens who had never had any brushes with the law. Add to that the promotion of cronies and demotion or punitive transfer of policemen and women who dared apply the law equally to those who are well-connected and you will understand why we are in the situation we are in today. A situation where 16 kilos of heroin disappear overnight from police custody and convicted drug dealers take a break from prison at will, where some fine members of our police force are lying very low to protect their jobs or wasting hours of work on issues that please politicians rather than targeting real crime and banditry. A situation where inquiries are swift when it comes to opponents and last forever to avoid embarrassment to or prosecution of those in power. Anarchy, if you prefer. Is it any wonder that drug trafficking has got out of hand and crime has become uncontrollable? Only those who have been trapped down a coalmine for the last 100 years can’t see that and keep blaming the poor parents and insisting that the vile and macabre practice of killing citizens will give the police back what has been snatched away from them by politicians: the dignity to do the work they are paid to do without fear of retribution from unscrupulous politicians.

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