After the successful “Founding Assembly” of JUSTICE: ASOCIATION AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE held at the University of Mauritius last month, the elected Executive Committee held a Press Conference on 1st August to announce to the public the birth of this important new organization. The Association is a broad coalition of a number of important human rights currents in the country.
Presiding the Press Conference, Jean Claude Bibi said that JUSTICE was concerned with ending the impunity with which police officers infringe the criminal code. He said that the human rights of citizens must be protected against violence by officers of the State. He also said that the fact that there were never copnvictions against police officers and hardly ever even charges indicated plainly that there was “political protection” given to the officers concerned.
Rajni Lallah then gave a history of the Conference Against Violations of Human Rights by Officers of the State in 2001 and how it was followed by a showing of the film INJUSTICE. This then created the will for JUSTICE to be formed.
Lindsay Morvan introduced the Manifesto of JUSTICE, which is a well-argued document. The press were given English, Kreol and French copies of the document.
Martine Desmarais linked her own experiences of the National Human Rights Commission with general comments on some of its grave short-comings.
Others present at this historic press conference were Veronique Topize, widow of the late musician, Kaya, found dead in police cells in February 1999, and whose death caused nation-wide rebellions. She said that it had been a “dream” of hers that such an Association could one day be born, when she had gone through the experience of losing someone through police violence.
Lise Bayaram, whose son was found dead in Police Cells exactly two years ago, added her voice to those of the others.
Lindsey Collen, in reply to a question, said that the aim of JUSTICE was two-fold: to make politicians pay a high political price for the “protection” they accord police officers who are violent, and to change the balance of forces within each police station in favour of those officers who are not violent.
It is interesting that the MBC, which filmed the press conference in great detail, and which had a reporter present has not (until Wednesday following the Friday press conference) broadcast anything about JUSTICE being formed.