Delegation of the European Union to Botswana and SADC

Opening ceremony of half day workshop on Human Rights and Law Enforcement

Mauritius , 30/07/2020 - 08:27, UNIQUE ID: 200730_2
Speeches of the Ambassador

  • Mr Dheeraj Seetulsingh, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission
  • Mr Choolun Bhojoo, Deputy Commissioner of Police
  • Deputy Chairpersons and Members of the National Human Rights Commission
  • Representatives of Young Queer alliance and Collectif Arc en ciel
  • Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Bonzour tou dimoune, sirtout banne policiers ki là azordi.

(Bonjour à tous, surtout les policiers présents ici aujourd'hui)

Mo bien content mo avec zot azordi pou louverture sa seminaire la lor thème ‘ Drwa Imin et application la loi’ organisé par Commission Nationale Droits de l’Homme.

Mo profite locasion pour félicite Président Commission Nationale Droits de l’Homme ek so lekip pou lorganisation sa workshop la dans contexte nou projet  pou la promotion drwa imin dans Republik Moris.

I am equally pleased to see so many police officers attending this workshop today.  The theme to be discussed today, namely non-discrimination, is key to your work. As a law enforcer, you come across a diversity of stakeholders.  Therefore you are or will be coming across   two concepts that are at the heart of modern human rights-based societies and human rights-based policing, namely (i) equality and (ii) non-discrimination.  And this can be very challenging. We have all seen the world wide emotion and movement created by the death of George Floyd  which  generated a global movement ‘Black lives matter’ against racism – I am sure all of you here have heard of it. Here in Mauritius we have the chance to live in a peaceful multicultural society, but to maintain this achievement, the respect of every individual remains essential. Today’s workshop aims precisely to discuss and sensitise you on how to apply these principles of non-discrimination when dealing with various target groups, of which LGBTI persons and elderly persons. 

Non discrimination in Europe

The European Union for its part is committed to eliminate all forms of discriminations, within its borders and in the world, so that all may enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms, without restrictions or exceptions.  But this is not easy and we face challenges and difficulties along this road. Therefore the need to reinforce the legal framework as a starting point. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union clearly provides for non-discrimination based on the following grounds which are enumerated namely:

  • sex
  • race
  • colour
  • disability
  • age
  • sexual orientation
  • ethnic or social origin
  • genetic features
  • language
  • religion or belief
  • political or any other opinion
  • membership of a national minority
  • property

To make this a reality, all EU member states have obligations under non-discrimination law:

  • 1 To protect against discrimination at the legislative level (equal protection of the law).
  • 2 To take administrative and policy measures for effective protection against discrimination
  • 3. To respect equality (equality before the law): this means that the executive and judicial powers must apply the law in a non-discriminatory manner

In the policing context, the principle of equality before the law is of particular importance. The human rights obligation to take effective action to protect against discrimination, such as taking action against hate crime, is increasingly seen as crucial in the fight against discrimination. Indeed, the police is required to carry out their tasks in a fair manner, guided, in particular, by the principles of impartiality and non-discrimination. And we all know that the Code of ethics of the Mauritius Police Force includes the upholding of fundamental human rights, treating every person as an individual and display respect and compassion towards them.

The question of LGBTI and elderly in Mauritius

I note with appreciation that the Police has been trained in several occasions on human rights based approaches.  But there are still some areas where discrimination can sometimes persist in Mauritius.   I refer here to the cases of LGBTI persons and elderly, as well as discrimination based on gender.

It is important to highlight that protecting LGBTI persons from discrimination does not mean creation of a new set of LGBTI-specific rights, nor does it require the establishment of new international human rights standards. It simply requires the application of the principles of protection of human dignity, non-discrimination and privacy to all individuals, including LGBTI persons. There should be equal rights for all, and not special rights for LGBTI persons.

In the same vein, there should be equal rights for women, the elderly and the disabled.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

What we are doing under the EU funded project with NHRC

This is why we are working with the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Mauritius since 2017 to promote the respect for human rights.  More than 10 000 people have been trained so far and this half day workshop today is being done with the same objective.  This action today follows up the Forum Debate that we had in December 2018, where we brought together politicians, policy makers and NGO to discuss the issue of non-discrimination for LGBTI persons.  

I would like to thank here the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission and his team for their commitment and the excellent work done so far in training and sensitising the public on respect for human rights. 

I would also like to thank Young Queer Alliance and Collectif Arc en Ciel for their participation as resource person today.  As representatives of the civil society, you are frontliners when it comes to witnessing acts of discrimination.  You are in the best possible position to testify of real situations and by that to sensitise the law enforcers on how to act in a non-discriminative way.

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Police for their engagement and willingness to participate in this training session.  It shows your commitment for a human rights based policing approach in Mauritius.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased that today's event is also seeing the launch of two tools for the promotion of human rights:

1. One silicone bracelet with key human rights principles engraved on them – this will be distributed widely so that Universal the declaration of human rights is publicised across Mauritius and Rodrigues specially that all human beings are equal in dignity and are entitled to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

2. A flyer including all relevant practical info for victims of domestic violence.  Domestic violence is unfortunately a scourge in many societies, and it is important that victims get quick and comprehensive information on the support available.

I would like to congratulate the National Human Rights Commission team for its hard work in making these tools a reality.

Mo ti a envie nous continué travaille ensam nou tou, ki li banne autorités ou la société civile, pou nou élimine tou discrimination.

Mo remercié zot tou et souhaite zot ene bon séminaire.

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