LALIT has exposed how a 2002 report on asbestos in Mauritius, a Report by John Addison, a Consultant in Mineralogy, Occupational Hygiene and Environmental Health and Safety that was publicly released by a Cabinet decision has become a “secret” one. We have called on the Ombudsman to open up an investigation on how this has happened. The following is our formal complaint letter to the Ombudsman.
To the Ombudsman
2nd Floor, City Centre Building
Cnr Corderie and Leoville L'Homme Streets,
8th November, 2018
I write in the name of Joint LALIT-Asbestos house inhabitant Committees in some 50 Cité EDC, a body of persons not incorporated, to lodge a complaint regarding maladministration in the Civil Service: the Ministry of Health is denying us access to a copy of the Report on the Assessment of the Health Dimension of Asbestos in Mauritius by Mr John Addison, Consultant of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (2001). This Report was clearly and explicitly made public by the government in 2002:
The Addison Report is still of immediate national importance as it concerns health dangers of asbestos housing and specific recommendations to address these dangers. The present Government itself admits that removal of asbestos housing is a question of national public health. The Ministry of Housing and Land even released an official communique on 22 July 2015 to announce a “grand projet d’envergure” as the Communique goes on to state: “L’amiante etant un materiau toxique, le Ministre du Logement a plaidé pour un plan de desamiantage.” (See Annex 2)
Here is a chronology outlining our efforts to obtain a copy of the Addison Report:
7 weeks have passed since my initial and I have not received a reply from Mr Nursing to date.
The Report on the Assessment of the Health Dimension of Asbestos in Mauritius by Mr John Addison is unavailable on the government portal. The only document available on the Ministry of Health website is a National Action Plan on Asbestos (2002), a government plan following the Addison Report which might or might not include recommendations made by John Addison (we are not in a position to compare the two as we have no access to the Addison Report). On Wednesday 19th September morning, I went in person to the National Archives to request access to a copy of the report. Staff there searched the Archives but could not find a copy. LALIT member Ragini Kistnasamy also checked with the National Library and they could also not find a copy. It seems they were never given one. All this to say that the Ministry of Health has taken no steps to release the Addison Report to the public.
I would be grateful if you could open up an investigation to ascertain whether any decision by the Ministry of Health to deny us access to the Addison Report when a Cabinet decision has released it is:
(a) contrary to law; and/or
(b) based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact; and/or
(c) unreasonably delayed; and/or
(d) otherwise unjust or manifestly unreasonable.
We call on you to ensure that:
We remind you that asbestos housing is a danger to the health of inhabitants of such housing and thus recommendations made by the Addison Report are of urgent importance.
Annexes referred in this letter are published in the Documents Section