On 21st June, seven Catholic priests issued a communiqué. In it, they have made several statements the major thrust of which is to describe the social situation in Mauritius as one characterised by a general climate of social insecurity, fear and loss of trust in our institutions.
The priests state, with particular reference to incidents involving former Attorney-General Yatin Varma and the alleged case of paedophilia in the MITD, that they feel disturbed by cases of abuse involving corruption, swindling and cover-up which, in their opinion, have become commonplace in the country. They claim that legal and administrative procedures are being perverted to exculpate, under cover of law, certain persons who are culpable as if the law did not apply to them as to others.
They have stated their doubts as to whether a system of impunity has not taken over from the framework of the rule of law in the country. In their communiqué, they have made an appeal for each and every one to join hands with them to denounce what they interpret the situation to be by signing up a petition seeking the Prime Minister to redress the situation as they perceive it.
One of them has gone as far as to ask whether there is justice still in the country and whether it is independent of politics and worthy of (public) trust. Such a direct attack on the judiciary is nowhere substantiated by the priest in question.
In a country in which its Attorney-General and a PPS have just resigned on being put under arrest by the police, it is amazing that the priests have come to the conclusion that there would be an atmosphere of impunity overtaking the rule of law. It is still more amazing that they are putting under doubt the independence of our judiciary when not only local citizens but all those from outside who engage in business with the country do so under the implicit trust that we have a fully functioning independent judiciary. It is to be wondered therefore as to how they come to the conclusion that our judicial system might not be functioning independently of the political establishment.
It is by now well known that some persons take undue liberties with the State apparatus when specific political parties are in power. This selective criticism of governments, depending on whether they have or have not partnered with the MMM, is by now well established. One would have expected that ecclesiastics, who exert considerable religious influence from behind their pulpits, would have carefully looked into the ‘bien-fondé’ of their allegations and observed a duty of reserve before going out public to make blatant and unjustified generalisations about the country’s governance.
Mauritius will, we hope, remain a place where those who are placed in a position of responsibility do not go beyond the bounds of ordinary civility to draw unwarranted conclusions by making it appear as if everything has gone topsy-turvy when this is clearly not the case.
* Published in print edition on 28 June 2013