In Mauritius there is an all-out war against drugs and drug trafficking. The Anti Drug and Smuggling Unit (ADSU) of the Mauritius Police Force (MPF), mandated by the Prime Minister, have initiated considerable efforts and resources to combat this crime with significant results.
The government has also set-up a Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking chaired by a former supreme court judge and a team of Assessors. The work of this Commission is producing results in that much information is being gathered on drug traffickers and their networks.
Because of the seriousness of this societal scourge the subject of the death penalty has once again surfaced in the public place. A few politicians seem to be favourable for the reintroduction of the death penalty. Public voices are also being heard on this subject due to the exasperation at the sheer enormity of drug trafficking and violent crimes in the country. The last prison execution took place 30 years ago on 10 October 1987. Since then no other death sentences have been carried-out.
In this local debate around the reintroduction of capital punishment nobody has yet mentioned that Mauritius, along with many other countries, was signatory to the United Nations work for worldwide abolition of the death penalty, see extract of the wording below. Clearly, the wording states that signatories commit themselves to working towards abolition of capital punishment.
The statement at the 61st United Nations General Assembly 81st Plenary Session of 19 December 2006 of which Mauritius was a signatory (document reference UN document A/61/PV.81 page 33).
We firmly believe that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The death penalty provides no added value in terms of deterrence. Any miscarriage or failure of justice is irreversible when, in a cruel and inhumane way, the punishment deprives one of his or her right to life. The signatories of this statement are pleased to note that the trend towards the worldwide abolition of the death penalty continues, and they welcome the abolition of capital punishment in three States over the past year, together with positive developments towards its complete abolition in many other countries.
However, despite these developments, there is still cause for great alarm. The signatories of this statement remain deeply concerned about the resort to the death penalty all over the world.
The signatories of this statement commit themselves to working towards the abolition of the death penalty and, where the death penalty still exists, call for its use to be progressively restricted, insist that it be carried out according to minimum standards such as those set out in Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50, and, in the meantime, call for the establishment of a moratorium on executions.
Therefore, if Mauritius was to reintroduce the death penalty it would be reneging on an important international instrument. This would certainly put the country in an embarrassing situation at United Nations level. This posture could tarnish its reputation at a time when Mauritius is seeking United Nations assistance over its sovereignty claim to the Chagos Archipelago. Quite apart from the emotional aspects there is much to consider in political, legal and human terms to this debate. No doubt, this will make entertaining and heated exchanges in any parliament session.