Members of the Bar Council were in the streets of Port Louis on this Friday 13 May for a peaceful march to protest against the “actions” of the Police Force against the Barristers in the function of their duty. This protest all started when the President of the Bar Council, Me Yatin Varma was brutalised during his function as the lawyer of the Slovak, Peter Uricek, who was deported on the 26th of April 2022, despite the order of the Supreme Court forbidding the deportation of Slovak.
Due to the restrictions opposed by the Police Force, only 50 members of the Bar Council were allowed to participate in this protestation. Among the participants, were Me Rama Valayden, Me Shakeel Mohamed, Me Reza Uteem, and Me Ravi Ratna, among others. The march started at the seat of the Bar Council to finish at ‘Le Jardin de la Compagnie’. The members of the Council observed one minute of silence in front of the old Supreme Court in favour of the Slovak Airlines.
At ‘Le Jardin de la Compagnie’, Yatin Varma said a big thank you to all the participants for the well-functioning of the march before addressing the Press Members. He stated that today is an historic day. It is the very first time in history that the Barristers of this country are participating in a march to say NO to the way the Police Force treat Barristers; and to say NO to the way an Order of the Supreme Court was not obeyed by the authorities.
He added on that, we need to preserve the independence and integrity of the profession. This is not the first time that a lawyer has been brutalised during the function of his/her job and as from now, no Barrister will accept and let members of the Police Force prevent them from exercising their jobs. This is so because when a lawyer preserves the rights of his client, he is also preserving justice and if a lawyer finds himself in a position of not being able to do so, justice will not be done in this country.
As for Rama Valayden, he stated that he is very satisfied with the actions being taken by the members of the Council and that if there had been no restrictions, thousands and thousands of Barristers would have been on the road to protests. He also added that this is the only beginning; there is still a long way to go.
Also participating to this protestation, Ravi Ratna pointed out that the objective of this march is to make the members of the Police Force understand that they will not be able to continue to adopt the same culture of work they adopted to oppress suspects who have been arrested, to use oppression against the legal profession, to trick suspects as well as lawyers to obtain confession. He added on that this is a culture of verbal and physical brutality and arrogance, which have been developed in the Police Force.
Coming to Reza Uteem, he said that the objective of this march is for the Police Force to take conscience, for the Commissioner of Police to take his responsibility as he is in charge of the entire Police Force. The post of the Commissioner of Police is a post guaranteed by the Constitution of Mauritius, which thus means that there is no higher post than the post of the Commissioner of Police in the Police Force. So, when the Police Officers say that the orders are from above, it cannot be from other than the Commissioner himself. Reza Uteem seized the opportunity to appeal to the Commissioner of Police to tell his Officers to abide to the oath they took; that of upholding the law. They are responsible to act impartially without any pressure to uphold the law.
He added o that « Zot pas la pou defan gouvernmen, zot pas la pou vin aret dimoun lor un simp allegation et zot bizin resezi zot et azir dan le cadre de la loi… »
In parallel, LPM held a protest as a support to the Bar Council at the same time as the March in Port-Louis.