[10 May 1994]
OF A GENERAL NATURE
1. The Constitution
of Mauritius, which safeguards fundamental human rights in the country,
provides in its section 7 that "No person shall be subjected
to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such treatment",
such provisions being subject to any law authorizing punishment that
was lawful on 11 March 1964, i.e., before the country's accession
offences against the person, such as assaults, wounds and blows, manslaughter,
murder and sexual aggression, are prohibited and punished under the
Criminal Code Act, but there is no specific criminal offence for acts
of torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention.
3. For the
protection of children, section 5 of the Social Aid Act and article
376 of the Civil Code provide for the removal of a child who is ill-treated
by his parents from their custody, under section 5 (5) of the Social
Aid Act, a parent who ill-treats a child commits an offence.
4. In respect
of detainees, i.e., people detained in a prison or a correctional
or rehabilitation youth centre, section 36 of our Reform Institutions
Act provides that "except as is provided for in this Act, no
detainee shall be subjected to punishment or privation of any kind".
Section 12 of the same Act provides as follows:
"No officer shall
use force against a detainee except such force as is reasonably
(b) In the defence
of another person;
(c) To prevent a detainee
(d) To compel obedience
to an order which the detainee wilfully refuses to obey; or
(e) To maintain discipline
in the institution".
5. In addition,
section 42 of the Reform Institutions Act provides for a detainee
to be placed in handcuffs or under restraint by such means as are
approved by the Commissioner of Prisons, where it is necessary to
prevent the detainee from escaping or to prevent him from doing injury
to himself or to another person, subject however to the condition
that no detainee shall be kept under restraint unless a medical officer
designated by the Ministry of Health certifies that the restraint
will not injure the detainee's health.
6. The Standing
Orders of the Police Force as well as the judges' Rules in force in
England are applicable in Mauritius and prohibit the use of force,
duress or oppressive treatment on the part of persons in authority
to obtain confessions.
has ratified international treaties such as the African Charter of
Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, which embody provisions similar to those contained
in section 7 of our Constitution and which prohibit torture and other
degrading treatment, irrespective of the status or motive of the person
8. In respect
of matters dealt with in the Convention, section 17 of our Constitution
contains provisions for the enforcement by the Supreme Court of the
rights conferred under sections 3 to 16 of the Constitution, and reads
"(1) Where any
person alleges that any of Sections 3 to 16 has been, is being
or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then, without
prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter
that is lawfully available, that person may apply to the Supreme
Court for redress."
under the Criminal Code are dealt with by our District, Intermediate
or Supreme Court.
from the lower courts are heard by the Court of Criminal Appeal or
the Court of Civil Appeal, subject ultimately to a right of appeal
to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England.
11. For the
year 1993, of the 534 criminal cases lodged before the Intermediate
Court, there were 23 cases where the admissibility of statements given
by the accused party was challenged on the grounds that they had been
given as a result of threats, violence, oppression, duress and inducement,
and were therefore not voluntary.
12. Of the
nine cases already dealt with on the issue of "Voire Dire"
the Court ruled the statements admissible in eight and inadmissible
in one only. Seven cases are still pending. The accused changed their
plea to one of guilty in four cases.
13. Of the
23 cases, 15 involved possession or cultivation of drugs, and three
concerned charges of inflicting wounds and blows causing death without
intention to kill.
14. For the
year 1993, 65 cases of alleged police brutality were reported, of
which 28 are at the enquiry stage, 5 are sub judice, 13 have
been transmitted to the Director of Public Prosecution and 19 filed
for no further action. Seven police officers were interdicted from
duty, two for allegedly inflicting wounds and blows causing deaths
without intention to kill, four for wounds and blows causing incapacity
for more than 20 days and one for abuse of authority.
15. One of
the rare cases in which the police officers accused of violence against
an individual were prosecuted in 1993 is that involving one Labrosse
who died as a result of his injuries. The case was very widely publicized
in the press and the trial, due to be heard on 5 March 1994 (CN 447/93)
is still pending before the Intermediate Court. The accused No. 1
and No. 2, both police constables, are charged with inflicting wounds
and blows causing death but without intention to kill, and assault,
16. The difficulties
affecting the fulfilment by Mauritius of the obligations under the
Convention are mainly of an administrative nature, arising from severe
staff shortage and the absence of a specialized unit at the Attorney
General's office responsible for follow-up of the implementation of
obligations arising under treaties ratified by the Government, for
the preparation of reports and for the compilation and updating of
information and statistics.
17. In practice,
the prevention and elimination of acts of torture is rendered difficult
by the arrogance and abusive attitude of certain police or prison
officers, the lack of evidence in criminal cases, particularly in
drugs cases where suspects' state of dependence on drugs is at times
exploited for the purpose of extracting confessions from them, the
ignorance of certain suspects of their rights, and the absence in
many cases of criminal or disciplinary action against persons in authority
who allegedly commit acts of torture or cruel treatment.
II. INFORMATION IN RELATION TO ARTICLES IN PART I OF THE CONVENTION
Articles 2 and 4
18. As already
stated, the specific offence of torture as defined in article 1 of
the Convention does not exist in our law, but acts of torture are
prohibited under the wider provisions of our Constitution and are
punishable under the Criminal Code.
19. No such
provisions exist in our law.
has jurisdiction over offences existing in our criminal law in the
cases mentioned in paragraph 1. a but not in paragraphs 1. b and c
21. The provisions
of paragraphs 1 and 2 are already applicable in Mauritius, but not
those of paragraphs 3 and 4.
provisions are already in practice in Mauritius in relation to criminal
offences generally, subject to what is stated in paragraph 20 above
under article 5.
10 of our Constitution furthermore provides that
"where any person
is charged with a criminal offence, then unless the charge is
withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a
reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established
Articles 8 and 9
24. Our Extradition
Act of 1970 applies to any "extradition crime" which is
defined in the Act as
"an offence against
the law of, or part of a foreign State, the act constituting which
would, if it took place in or within the jurisdiction of Mauritius,
constitute an offence against the law in force in Mauritius and
(a) (i) in the case
of a non Commonwealth country, amounts to one of the offences
specified in the extradition treaty with that country;
the case of a Commonwealth country, the maximum penalty for which
is death or imprisonment for not less than 12 months; and
is described in the First Schedule; or
be so described if the description concerned contained a reference
to any intent or state of mind on the part of the person committing
the offence, or to any circumstance of aggravation, necessary to constitute
25. The First
Schedule to the Act includes offences against the person under the
criminal law but does not provide for offences of torture as defined
in article 1 of the Convention.
Articles 10 and 11
26. As part
of their training, police and prison officers are acquainted with
Police Standing Orders and the Judges Rules as applicable in England.
Articles 12 and 13
27. The investigation
is carried out by the police, even where police officers are accused
of having committed the acts of torture, so that there are in practice
difficulties in ensuring that the investigation is carried out properly
28. The right
to complain against acts of torture exists, but again it is not easy
to ensure that the complainant is protected against ill-treatment
or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint.
29. The victim
of an act of torture may apply to the Supreme Court for redress under
section 17 of our Constitution and may sue for damages in a civil
court of law. In the case of death his dependants may obtain compensation
by way of damages under the civil law.
provisions are applicable in Mauritius as the English Judges Rules
are in force there.
refer to Part I, paragraphs 7 and 8 above.
(This document in English, which has been received from the Government
of Mauritius, may be consulted in the files of the Centre for Human