Paul Lismore

[Paul Lismore] Human Rights : has the balance tilted too far in favour of the criminal ?

Rédigé par Paul Lismore le Samedi 2 Janvier 2021

Justice : Such a wonderful word replete with notions of fair play, punishment, and retribution (I will leave the rehabilitation side for another paper). But can we really say that our courts dispense justice without fear or favour and with the interests of the victims at heart?

The Vanessa Lagesse case has been dragging on for years now and continues to be adjourned at every new sitting of the court. Does anyone even have a thought for the family and friends of the victim? Don't they have the basic human right to know what exactly happened to cause the death of their loved one and how the murderer will be at last punished? Or are our courts too obsessed with the human rights of the accused and the alleged perpetrators of the vilest of crimes to the complete exclusion of the rights of the victims and their families and friends?

We all bemoan the terrible increase in the incidence of domestic violence in Mauritius, and view with horror the callousness and sadistic barbarity of a significant number of men who had in the not too distant past sworn a sacred marital vow to love and cherish their wives.

We view with disgust how Mauritius has rapidly followed the global trend of murders being mostly committed in the home where many men view their wives/partners as their property which can be disposed of whenever their misogynistic tendencies relegate all decent instincts of respect and love to oblivion. And we watch with horror when men convicted of the most horrible acts of violence against their wives/partners/concubines are let off with insignificant sentences or, worse, released and allowed to return to the family home so that they can continue their orgy of torture and destruction.

It is all too easy and convenient to blame our police force.

Yes, there are many inadequacies within our police force, and the most grotesque example is that it is yet again led by another Commissioner with not an ounce of independence in his body, and who sees crime only when some politician points at a politically expedient target. Our police force has now become the Jugnauth/la cuisine police force, unfortunately...

What does surprise me is the extent of the gullibility of Lepep admirab in placing the judiciary next to God in terms of unquestioning admiration, and zavokas being held in such awe and admiration. Yes, there are a few of them who do merit our admiration, but the majority of them have only money and absence of ethics and morality as their guiding principles.

Put yourselves in the place of this lady and try to imagine the daily horrors of her life in the one place where should feel safe: her home.  Has our court system become like all the other institutions that we are constantly exhorted to 'respekter', when the evidence strongly indicates that we should have nothing but contempt for the way justice is administered in this country.

" La quinquagénaire dit avoir plusieurs fois porté plainte contre son compagnon pour violence domestique à la police. Son compagnon lui a déjà fracturé le bras à force de la frapper. La pauvre femme ne comprend pas : « Chaque fois que la police l’a arrêté, il est ensuite condamné à une simple amende. Qu’attendent les autorités pour intervenir ? Tôt ou tard, je crains qu’il ne veuille me tuer. Je ne sais où aller : où trouver un refuge pour mes enfants et moi ? » plaide-t-elle."

That lady forms part of a significant number of women in Mauritius who have become the preferred punch bags of the men who once promised them the earth with vows of love and affection. They are now prisoners in their own homes who have lost all faith in the ability of our judges, magistrates, and zavokas to do the minimum required of them under the law: to afford them the protection that the law entitles them to.

The scenario of domestic violence has become an endless cycle: after months/years of domestic abuse, the victim finally decides to report the animal to the police.

The police will arrest the cowardly beast and take him to court. And this is where justice ends: invariably, the violent thug will be released back to the marital home and the torture and violence resumes, often leading to the murder of the victim. But that is not the end. Oh no! Enter Missier/Madam zavoka who does his or her jadoo on our lovely DPP, and as if by magic, the charge of murder is reduced to manslaughter and often insultingly degraded to one of " Coups et blessures sans l'intention de tuer" which means that the bastard is released after a few years (if that,,,) and allowed to roam around the island in the search for his next victim.

People who find themselves in debt for even small amounts of money have their lives destroyed by being sent to prison for a week and face the stigma of imprisonment on release and,often, the shame of rape by some HIV riddled drug addict who regards prison as a second home. Victims of crime have to wait for years before a case reaches completion and the guilty person given a hopefully appropriate punishment.

Drug dealers realise that it is better for them to sell heroin because the profits are enormous compared to the comparatively harmless marijuana, and the sentences of imprisonment are identical. Someone who admits to committing a crime by helping a person evade justice cannot be prosecuted because the Director of Public Prosecutions decides in the condescending wisdom that comes with the complete lack of accountability that he enjoys in our so called democracy that he will issue a nolle prosequi....

Talking about lack of justice is ineffectual unless you put yourself in the position of the victim or the victim's family. Imagine being the parents of the Bassin Blanc couple, and try to understand what it must be like to live every day not knowing what really happened to your loved ones.

Imagine being the parents of Nadine Dantier and having to cope with the intense frustration of dealing with an utterly incompetent police force; imagine being the family of Gerald Lagesse and enjoy the short lived relief of finding the accused confess their roles in his murder, and then experience the terrible frustration of seeing them granted bail and having access to the Rs 48 millions that is still missing from the MCB robbery.(they have since been imprisoned...) Imagine being the relatives of the hundreds of people who seem to have vanished into thin air, and feel the frustration of having to deal with a police force that admittedly has a nice band of musicians but finds it difficult to solve any crime unless unconventional methods are used.

It has always fascinated me how the hard won fight for human rights can be so easily hijacked by the scum of the earth who have no difficulty in finding willing and vociferous allies from highly paid people in the legal profession. It has become accepted practice for notorious criminals to ascribe any confession of guilt to the alleged violence meted out by the police, and there is always a small army of 'Yuman Rites' loud mouths always too willing to defend the 'rights' of the criminals and to ignore completely the human rights of the victims.

And it has become accepted practice for murdering husbands/partners ( no doubt encouraged by the zavokas...) to claim infidelity on the part of the victim as the reason for him stabbing her a million times and chopping up her corpse. It is as if imagined or real unfaithfulness gives homicidal psychopaths the right to murder someone who ceased being a partner a long time ago and who had suddenly been turned into the personal property of the husband the moment the chautari/honeymoon was over.

Why are we constantly bombarded with media reports on the alleged abuse of the human rights of criminals?

Are we not in danger of losing sight of the main issue regarding law and order, that too many crimes remain undetected and those that are resolved take an eternity to reach a conclusion in the courts? It is much easier for a rapist or a murderer (oh all right, someone accused of manslaughter then, but the end result is still the death of someone) to get bail and enjoy freedom for many years than someone caught with a few poulias of gandia. Imagine the feelings of trepidation and anxiety felt every time that 69 year old nani goes out and not knowing whether she will come across the man who had confessed to raping and sodomising her some years ago; yes, Lallchand Boodhoo joined a long list of rapists released on bail to enjoy several years of freedom before he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment that did not reflect the gravity of the crime. His human rights have been safeguarded but nothing was done to protect the rights of the old lady who had never harmed anyone.

Who is going to talk about the human rights of the law abiding victims of crime? Next time you hear a rich lawyer bleating on about the human rights of his client, spare a thought for the right of the victim's families to see the culprits brought to justice and properly punished for the terrible suffering inflicted on their loved ones. If life is sacred, we ought to show greater concern for those whose lives have been extinguished or forever damaged, than for those who murder and cause enormous pain, and then hope to walk away from court on a legal technicality. 

Human Rights mean nothing if the right to life is superceded by concerns over the rights of those who have taken the life of someone, or who make the lives of others hell. Victims have rights too and their families deserve nothing less than full respect for these rights by those making a great living from the law and order industry.

Samedi 2 Janvier 2021

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