Yesterday, in the Radio-Plus debate after the 4.30pm news, in the context of the Court judgement that did not condemn police officers charged with torturing Mr. Iqbal Toofany who died in police custody with 14 injuries, LALIT member Lindsey Collen spoke of what must be done to curb police torture.She explained that there are systemic changes needed to. As it is, police officers torture detainees to extricate a “confession” from them. Once this confession is obtained, there is no case: there is only a Court sentence based on the confession. Section 75 of the Criminal Code states: "Accused admitting charge: Where the accused admits the charge to be true, his confession shall be recorded, and judgment delivered according to law." In LALIT's experience, when police officers torture people they have detained, they do so either to obtain a confession to a criminal charge, or to get a statement incriminating someone else.
Readers can read more about LALIT's proposals on this confession law through this link:
Lindsey Collen also explained the need for protocols for different corps de metiers to ensure that professionals do not become accomplices to police cover-ups when detainees are tortured in their custody. This includes lawyers, Magistrates, doctors, parliamentarians as well as police officers.
More about these protocols in this link: https://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/443/10-steps-to-stop-police-violence-and-torture-now/
Torture in La Bastille prison
In the radio program, former Attorney General, Rama Valayden paid hommage to LALIT's consistency over many years of struggling against the structural weaknesses that allow police torture to continue. He also spoke out against horrendous torture that is going on in prisons. La Bastille prison, a prison that was supposed to have been closed down because of the habitual torture against detainees has been re-opened. He gave a chilling example of the terrible torture going on there and stated that he had heard witnesses from prison detainees and prison guards confirming such torture.
3 deaths in detention this year
In LALIT, we keep a register of deaths in police detention. This does not include deaths in prison detention. Since the beginning of this year, three young men have died in police detention.
Mr. Mervin Munbodh, a 24 year old young man of La Caverne, Vacoas was in detention just because he was charged with stealing a packet of cigarettes in March this year. He didn't have the means to pay bail, so he was kept in detention. He died officially because of “Asphyxia due to hanging” in a police cell in Vacoas detention centre.
Mr Jean Maurice David Utcheegadoo a 29 year old man of Poste de Flacq was in detention just because he was charged with stealing vegetables in March this year. The official cause of his death was also “Asohyxia due to hanging” in a police cell in Trou-d'Eau-Douce.
Mr Andryatoki Barisoka, a young man from Madagascar died at Jeetoo Hospital of “Subarachnoid Haemorrhage” when he was in police custody.
There is a growing world opposition movement to police torture, with George Floyd having become a symbol of all the deaths in police custody because of torture by police officers.
LALIT keeps a register of all deaths of people in police custody in Mauritius. Here are their names:
Source: LALIT’s Register of Deaths in Police Detention updated till 4th August, 2020