Justice for Mr. Eddysen Pachee who died injured, in police custody
LALIT extends our condolences and our solidarity with Mrs. Arti Pachee, widow of Mr. Eddysen Pachee, 39 year old Goodlands inhabitant, who was beaten up while in police custody, taken to hospital and died there.
Press reports state that police pathologist Gungadin after the autopsy has concluded that he did not die of natural causes: his death was due to brain oedema and injuries were found on his body: broken rib, injuries to his head, lips and left foot.
Mrs. Arti Pachee has publicly stated that her husband told her on Sunday when he was in detention that he had been beaten up by the band of police officers who had arrested him and 2-3 other people present at the arrest, kicked “lor mo lerin, lor mo lestoma” (she quotes her husband saying) first behind the bus station in Rivière-du-Rempart on Saturday, then beaten up again at the police station.
At the police station, one of the police officers, he told his wife, asked other policemen to turn away the police station camera, then another policeman suggested that he be taken to another area away from the video camera. She said he could hardly stand when he spoke to her. She showed the press the bloodstained and torn clothes he had worn when he was in custody.
As usual, the strange procedure of opening a police enquiry on a case of police violence continues: it is the MCIT police section that is responsible for the enquiry.
LALIT calls for the immediate arrest of the band of police officers who were responsible for Mr. Eddysen Pachee’s arrest and during his detention.
Coming so soon after the public viewing the torture of Mr. Gaiqui in the Curepipe CID Offices, the reputation for violence by officers of the State continues to be extremely bad. The Prime Minister and Interior Minister is responsible for this torture and violence.
We also call for the following demands, demands prepared in 2006 by the association Justice against violence by State Officers founded by LALIT, victims of police brutality and their families, and human rights militants, and updated by LALIT. We also include our Register of Deaths in Detenion.
Rajni Lallah, for LALIT
STOP POLICE VIOLENCE & TORTURE:
1. That the Prime Minister immediately:
(i) Put an end to the impunity of violent police officers; police officers must no longer be exempt from criminal charges for threatening or swearing at detainees; for hitting, kicking, beating detainees; for using torture on suspects or witnesses;
(ii) Invite a Special Raporteur under the UN Convention Against Torture to visit Mauritius for the purpose of interviewing victims of torture and of investigating police units, and of reporting publicly on patterns of illegal behavior by police officers and of exposing modus operandi of units that routinely torture people;
(iii) Set up an independent enquiry into the tools of torture (where stored, how acquired, by whom) existing in Government departments, and then find and destroy all these items (e.g. cagoules, sticks, and electric shock tools);
(iv) Ensure the automatic suspension of officers entrusted with custody at the time of a death in detention, and the prompt arrest of the officers concerned, as is the case with drivers in fatal motor accidents;
(v) Overhaul the Forensic Department, so that scientific evidence be available for criminal prosecutions, thus nullifying the excuse that brute behavior is supposedly “necessary” so as to extract confessions;
(vi) Initiate new laws so that:
(a) A confession alone no longer be sufficient evidence for a conviction (Revoke section 75 of the Criminal Procedure Act), and that a confession only be admissible as evidence if made before the Judiciary.
(b) Police officers are obliged to inform a person whether he or she is being held as a suspect or being called on as a witness, and inform the family of his/her whereabouts at all times.
(c) The DPP institute criminal charges against officers-in-charge in cases where injuries have been sustained by a detainee, failing which he must publicly explain the grounds on which he decided not to prosecute, a decision which must be subject to judicial review.
(d) The NHRC Act be overhauled so as to democratize the institution and so as to respect the UN principles for national human rights commissions, in particular to establish the NHRC’s independence from the executive (including from the Police) as regards appointment of the Commission, its funding, its enquiring officers, and so as to ensure that it no longer refuses to investigate certain cases of torture, and so that it clearly exposes apparent “patterns of illegal behavior” by police units (i.e. the modus operandi of the units known to torture people), and thus acts to prevent torture of detainees and witnesses.
2. Opposition leaders immediately stop their cries for “law and order” which they bandy about indiscriminately as a political weapon against the Minister of the Interior; these cries become a semblance of a moral “justification” for police violence. Parliamentarians must find ways of putting pressure on Government to end torture, and must publicly step in to protect their “mandants” from torture by State Officers.
3. Professionals must at once take their responsibility and put a stop to any of their peers perpetrating or colluding in or covering up torture. The Bar Council must prepare and issue an “ethical protocol for lawyers” on how members should proceed in their professional work, so as to protect their clients from torture. The Council must identify and expose the patterns of torture brought to its notice by members, and be pro-active against torture. It must also protect its members from any interference in their professional work by police officers who they expose as using torture. The Medical Council, after the dent to the credibility of medical practitioners in the Rajesh Ramlogun case, must develop an “ethical protocol for medical practitioners” on how doctors should work so as to identify and expose any signs of torture of patients who are in the weak position of being in custody, and how to practice their profession so as to avoid colluding with torturers who bring in injured detainees. Magistrates (through their monthly meeting) must prepare an “ethical protocol for magistrates” on how Magistrates ought to proceed when they become aware, in the course of their work as magistrates, of signs of torture. The Police unions must clean up their act, and stop supporting CID units who act brue Journalists must urgently set up a professional body for journalists that can, amongst other things to protect the public, issue an “ethical protocol” to avoid individual professional journalists from either covering up torture or in any other way colluding with torturers.