European Union External Action

Celebration of the International Day for Older Persons

Mauritius , 03/10/2019 - 09:53, UNIQUE ID: 191003_2
Speeches of the Ambassador

Speech delivered by the EU Ambassador during an event organised by the National Human Rights Commission in the context of the Celebration of the International Day for Older Persons.

Mr Dheeraj Seetulsingh, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission

Deputy Chairpersons and Members of the National Human Rights Commission

Mr Seebaruth, President of Senior Citizens Council

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen


Bonjour à tous, surtout les personnes âgées présentes ici aujourd'hui

I am very pleased to be here with you today for the celebration of the International Day for the Elderly which was just two days ago. This is my very first event with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as Ambassador of the European Union.

Elderly rights in Europe

One of the fundamental and founding values of the European Union is respect for human rights.  We recognise and protect the right of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence.  You have the right to participate in social and cultural life.  This is so important to the European Union that this right is enshrined in our Charter of Fundamental rights.

Elderly rights in Mauritius

I note with appreciation that the Government of Mauritius is undertaking a number of measures to provide the elderly with care and protection. This is a commitment that  we share.

Challenges faced by the elderly in general

While our rights do not change as we grow older, older persons often have to face negative attitudes. They face growing discrimination as their age progresses, in particular while accessing: health care, employment, goods and services, information and education.

Older people also face increasing barriers to their participation in events in the society.  They become more dependent on others and lose some or all of their personal autonomy. These threats to their dignity can make them more susceptible to neglect, abuse and violation of their rights.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Problems faced by the Elderly in Mauritius

I know that you, Senior citizens of Mauritius, have to face a number of difficulties. 

I have read with much concern in the press that many elderly citizens of Mauritius are victim of violence, often by the close family and that this violence has caused the loss of a few precious lives in the last year. This situation makes me deeply sad!

I also heard that you often face discriminations on public transports at the point that there is some reticence to take you on board buses, maybe because you don’t have to pay the ticket, or maybe as young, impatient people do not allow you time to get on the bus.

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 to promote the respect for human rights, including the rights of the elderly. 

Since March 2018, the NHRC has been implementing an important project, which the European Union is funding, to sensitise the general public on the rights of different target groups like women, children, elderly, LGBTI, etc.

The National Human Rights Commission is sensitising the general public all around the island, and in Rodrigues as well, to respect the rights of others. 

So far more than 8500 people have been trained under the project.  I am glad that the workshop you are attending today is organised as part of this project. 

I believe that it is important that you had the opportunity to listen to various speakers on different ways that the elderly can be protected.

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

Future perspectives

But we must do even more!

We would encourage the National Human Rights Commission to intensify its sensitisation campaigns on human rights, and reach as many citizens in Mauritius as possible.  It is vital that each and every one is aware of the rights of others.  This is the basic foundation for a violence-free society.  

We owe it to our Senior Citizens that they are entitled to a peaceful life, as they have contributed immensely to the progress of the society.

Je voudrais dire à toutes les personnes âgées ici présentes que vous pouvez compter sur l'Union européenne pour faire respecter vos droits.

Thanks to everyone for your kind attention.

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