In Re: Stripping and brutality at the Prison

Avec le soutien de

(Reference: NPMD 90/02/01/A)

To : Mr Mohamed Idbal Torabally
Deputy Chairperson (NPMD)
National Human Rights Commission
Port-Louis

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter dated 14th of January 2020.

As a Human Rights lawyer, I note with satisfaction that the NPMD views the allegations (inquiry if properly conducted will reveal that whatever I have said about the stripping and brutalities are true) “with great concern as it would amount to a grave breach of the Human Rights of detainees concerned”.

Particulars of what happened

The operation happened in the morning of Saturday 11th of January 2020 at the Central Prison Beau-Bassin.

The operation followed a previous operation of the same nature which occurred on Thursday 9th of January 2020.

The operations were conducted by a plethora of masked officers including officers from the prison services GIPM (carrying with them long rifles in an offensive and threatening manner) with the helicopters flying in the style of “Rambo” – “First Blood” casted by Sylvester Stallone …

The witness to that climate of fear is Barrister Ashiq Toorabally, who was deprived of any prompt visit to his client(s) because of the undergoing operation.

From the record of the Beau-Bassin Prison, it will be clear that I met several detainees following the operation which went on inside the compound of the Central Prison.

The detainees are living in fear and information imparted has been verified by me and the following factors are important from a Human Rights perspective:

(1) The detainees were not allowed to leave their cells in the morning which entails:
(a) The chamber pots were not disposed of, thus spread a foul smell;
(b) No toilet access in the morning;
(c) No basic food after the last meal which was served at around 15.00 hrs on the previous day;
(d) No brushing of teeth.

(2) The detainees were asked to lie low in the yards pending bodily cavity search done in front of all officers and prisoners without respect for the dignity of the persons. Uncalled comments belittling detainees in a rude way which could have untold consequences.
(3) Detainees were coerced to strip and any prisoner who refused were taken to task. Did I personally see it? No! Can the information be verified?
Yes! How?

• All detainees can testify to same provided they are interviewed in the absence of prison officers as any detainee who reports what is happening within the prison, will face prison default.

• Prison officers have witnessed and acted following orders by the Commission of Prison which according to the Convention against Torture is not a defence (vide also section 78 of our Criminal Code).

• Section 78 of the Criminal Code states:

“78. Torture by public official

(2) Where the act constituting an offence under subsection (1) has been committed outside Mauritius and –
(a) the victim is a citizen of Mauritius;
(b) the alleged offender is in Mauritius;
or
(c) the alleged offender is in Mauritius, and Mauritius does not extradite him, a Court shall have jurisdiction to try the offence and inflict the penalties specified in subsection (1).
(4) It shall not be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection
(1) to prove that he acted by order of his superior.”

• GIPM as per their routine orders can confirm same and entries have been effected in their respective diary! Occurrence books.

• The CCTV which covers all the compound (as installed by Brinks – 300 cameras which cover quasi every inch of compound of the Prison) will confirm the “unhuman” and inhumane actions which have occurred on the aforesaid dates.

• I am disturbed by information that, I have received to the effect that the CCTV footage has been deleted. Please allay my fear with your inquiry. But even if the footage has been deleted, I understand that Brinks, the private company can still provide the relevant copies if proper requests are made. It is apposite to note that there is ample provision to store the CCTV footage for … seventy-five days (75).

• I again reiterate that the inquiry be done in the absence of prison officers as it is done for example in India, South Africa, Australia and European countries.

• Is the NPMD aware how many detainees have passed away in the last 30 months? (annexed letter sent to the Honourable DPP to that effect)

• A non-exhaustive list (the full names are available at the record of the Central Prison with full particulars):

(i) Siddath Ibrahim;
(ii) Dr. Golamgos;
(iii) Cureeman (died in hospital following
harsh conditions in prison);
(iv) Sooknundhun;
(v) Savrimotoo;
(vi) Desire;
(vii) Maxime (hanging);
(viii) Colette (hanging);
(ix) Colette Bryan (hanging);
(x) Avinash (hanging);
(xi) Daby (hanging); and
(xii) Thésée.

I am exceptionally communicating the present letter to the press and all relevant authorities as I am really concerned of the human rights abuse at the Prisons.

I thank you in advance.
Yours in Peace.

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