It is important that the Police Force restores public trust and confidence in its professionalism and disentangles itself from perceptions that it is playing up to political desiderata
By Jan Arden
We have time and again in these columns and in this paper stressed the respect and support that the police should receive as they go about their duties in a multi-cultural society aspiring to live in some harmony, where honest and hard-working citizens should expect to be protected and treated with integrity and professionalism independently of their sex, ethnic origins, personal beliefs, and political affinities. We have no reason to waver on those demands and expectations from both sides of the fence. And we still believe the majority of police officers, even if insufficiently trained or equipped, or working in some cases in unsatisfactory buildings, operating under conditions and pressures of a disciplined force, try to answer their noble calling or simply do an honest job.
It is in that spirit that we have and will continue to raise matters that distract from such ideals, and which seem to be taking the country on a steadily downhill path in practice where ordinary citizens, NGOs, members of the legal community and visible faces of the independent media are losing confidence in the ability of police hierarchy to steady the ship amidst turbulences that keep battering its credibility.
The fathers of our independence and national sovereignty went some lengths to ensure that some vital offices, including that of the Commissioner of Police (CP), had ingrained constitutional safeguards to guarantee that holders of such high offices were protected from the hubris of political masters and their courtesans. It may not have been perfect but by and large we had no reason to suspect that any CP, once duly appointed, would fail to rise to the challenges and opportunities to serve the population that such independence conferred unto his post.
Why then do the police force seem to be spinning away from those legitimate expectations and, more disquietingly, why do they seem unable to see the growing sense of disenchantment in many quarters and take the necessary steps to change course? For brevity, we need only consider some less trivial examples that have remained unexplained to the layman, let alone to lawyers or civil rights activists.
We recall police behaviour in the case of the Slovakian national who had been residing lawfully in Mauritius since October 2019 with, one assumes, PMO’s approval, and his subsequent “manu militari” extraction by the police and handing over in April 2022 to a foreign power at SSR airport, ignoring either the Extradition Act or the Deportation Act and even flouting of the Interim Order of the Judge of the Supreme Court where legal deportation proceedings entered by the Attorney General(AG) were following their course. The PMO may well have been apprised in April this year that Mr Uricek was a wanted fellow of ill repute and terminated his residence permit but, even then his forcible extraction and expulsion by the police from the territory of Mauritius shook lawyers as it openly flouted the supervision of the Supreme Court in the AG’s own proceedings.
Much worse in terms of what’s perceived to be a classic example of flouting of the law by those precisely supposed to uphold it, was to be thrown up this June by a succession of videos and clips of police officers of different units based at Terre Rouge station concerning brutality, torture, and humiliation of suspects. While they are not dealing with “enfants de chœur” in that particular region or even in other hotspots of the island, there can be no reason to defend such dysfunctions in a Force that should ensure that the law prevails fairly or equitably and command respect rather than sarcasm. Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 25 November 2022
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