LALIT on Wednesday sent the letter below to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arvind Boolell, calling for the Mauritian Government to support the Ecuador Government in its granting of asylum to Julian Assange.
22 August, 2012.
We write to you on a subject that is very much in the news right now, an international issue concerning human rights and asylum, as well as the important background issue of free expression and public access to information.
Would it not be appropriate for the Mauritian Government, through your Ministry, to lend your support to those Latin American states meeting on Friday, 24 August, 2012 in order to discuss asylum for Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks organization? As you are aware the Foreign Minister of Ecuador put forward airtight arguments as to why the Ecuador Government is offering asylum to Julian Assange. The Government of a small state has taken a brave stand against the powerful nations of the world. We at the same time suggest that you request the High Commissioner representing South Africa to ask for his Government take a similar stand over the next few days. This could be the beginning of building up an Africa-wide support network for the Latin American countries that stand together with Ecuador.
We suggest that you take a position both on principle on the grounds of human rights, and also because the Swedish Government has not arranged to send its enquiring officers to the Ecuadorian Embassy in order to take a statement in order to see if there are charges to be laid. We also believe that a Mauritian stand would be appropriate in the sense that there are some Mauritian connections.
1. The State is relying, in part, on the WikiLeaks Cables that Mr. Assange released, for its case against the UK State under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The WikiLeaks Cables have also recently been accepted as evidence in the case Mr. Olivier Bancoult has put into the UK Courts, also on the Chagos issue. The WikiLeaks Cables may therefore have a key role in questions of national sovereignty and the right to return.
2. The WikiLeaks Cables enabled the people of Mauritius to begin to be aware of the heavy-handed diplomatic pressure put on States like Seychelles for a State of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and how much pressure the Mauritian Government, including your Ministry, has had to resist against similar imperialist military designs.
3. A Mauritian national, the late Chief Justice Rajsoomer Lallah, broke the ground first in the world on the question of giving asylum in cases where the country seeking to arrest the person concerned has the death penalty (in this case the USA has clearly been shown to be bent on getting Mr. Assange extradited from Sweden). Mr. Lallah made way for new grounds for protection under international law. He did it in a pioneering dissenting judgment in the UN Human Rights Committee. (Would you like a copy by e-mail?) You will note that Mr. Lallah stood by what he believed in, refusing to just go along with the status quo, and that today his opinion has finally become international law.
We put on record our receipt of your clear reply, outlining the Mauritian Government’s position, to our letter about the international convention on nuclear arms limitation.
Lindsey Collen (Copy to Press)