Tag Archives: mauritius

Why the COVID-19 Bill is nothing new?

Just my 2 cents as regards the new COVID-19 Bill. To me, when you compare it to the complexity of the Biometric Identity Case [1] back in 2014, it is a futile battle. Ish Sookun was among the few Mauritians who fought the battle, sacrificed part of his career, and even went to jail for poking his nose in matters that I think should not be opened. If you remember his ordeal [2], you'd probably understand why the COVID-19 Bill is totally pointless and how you're being hypocrites [3]. Thanks to Sanjeev Teeluckdharry the case went to the Privy Council but unfortunately, the State won the case and now everyone is forced to give their biometric information.

It was only a very few who were concerned at that time. Later, the government spent around Rs 19 billion on the Safe City Project which breaches basic human privacy but no one came forward to contest the project. Did we?

Hidden Agendas

It was the same Roshi Badhain [4] who was the advocate of PKJ. The one who stood for the Government at that time. Today, he's on the side of the table questioning the integrity of the Government. I'll let you take our your own conclusions. Hidden Agenda? Roshi Badhain was the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation at the same time when Ish Sookun was arrested. Roshi Badhain was totally in favour of the MNIC case which gives power to the government to handle your biometric information and today, he's saying that the government is giving more power to the Police Force. Which is which here? Contradiction.

Everyone have their (hidden) agenda. As soon as it does NOT concern you, you won't do anything. Bunch of hypocrites, that's who you all are.

Don't call me anti-patriotic because I'm not part of the battle, I'm just fed up being part of the same people working and voicing out again and again, while the people who should be concerned are the majority of our population. I was part of bigger battles, but when you look back at the end of the day, there's nobody to support you, why should I do something now?

Now it's definitely out of the question to give police more power. I totally object to this. The MPF is a fully funded institution using taxpayers' money. They are recruited under the Commission on Public Service. Do whatever you want it isn't going to change. The day the MPF becomes an independent institution, that's the day you'll see the country change.

FOIA

Why isn't anyone concerned about the Freedom of the Information Act which was promised by the same Government back in 2014. The FOIA was on the agenda/manifesto but never put at work. It's already been 1980 days since we're waiting for that. Oh, it does not concern you or your work, that's why.

https://www.lexpress.mu/politique

Source: https://www.lexpress.mu/politique

There is a proverb which says:

It takes a strong fish to swim against the current. Only the dead ones go with the flow.

[1] Madhewoo (Appellant) v The State of Mauritius
and another (Respondents) (Mauritius)
https://www.jcpc.uk/cases/docs/jcpc-2016-0006-judgment.pdf

[2] https://www.lexpress.mu/article/275151/ish-sookun-je-mets-police-au-defi-publier-preuves

[3] https://www.lexpress.mu/article/275408/accuse-sous-pota-ish-sookun-confie-apres-sa-liberation

[4] https://business.mega.mu/2014/04/22/biometric-id-card-mr-bhadain-roshi-law-allows-police-access-database/

Lawyers booked for breach of curfew while accompanying their client to the police headquarters

Mauritius is under a sanitary curfew since about a month now. People are advised to stay at home and not to venture outside unless they have a Work Access Permit and are going to their workplace or going out to get essential items (e.g food provision, medicines, etc).

Police officers are on regular patrols across the island and they have also set up road blocks in certain places to ensure that the curfew is being respected.

In the early press conferences of the National Communication Committee on COVID-19, a representative of the Mauritius Police Force informed people that officers will ascertain the urgency of traveling on a case-by-case basis and an officer will be allowed to book a person for breach of curfew if the latter provides an unjustified reason for traveling.

Recent press reports show that at least three lawyers have been booked for breach of curfew because they did not carry (with them) a « memo » which has been given to lawyers requiring to travel to assist their clients. The lawyers had accompanied their client to the Central Criminal Investigation Division, Police Headquarters, Line Barracks, Port-Louis.

The common factor among these three lawyers is that they are representing clients who said something that « annoyed » somebody with close ties with the government.

Are people abusing the ICT Act of Mauritius?

Disclaimer
People who are easily annoyed, distressed or may feel an « inconvenience » should not read this post. I will not be liable for any inconvenience caused to the reader.

Information and Communication Technologies Act 2001

Section 46(h)

Any person who —
uses, in any manner other than that specified in paragraph (ga), an information and communication service, including telecommunication service, —

(i) for the transmission or reception of a message which is grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

(ii) which is likely to cause or causes annoyance, humiliation, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to that person;

(iii) for the transmission of a message which is of a nature likely to endanger or compromise State defence, public safety or public order.


The ICT Act of Mauritius was amended in 2018 and it made a specific section of the legislation more ambiguous than before. Section 46 of the Act describes the offences under that legislation. The amendment introduced words such as humiliation, distress and anxiety to the list of "inconveniences" in part (ii).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that the amendments of the ICT Act are in line with the laws of countries such as Egypt, the UAE and Jordan — none of which are democracies.


On 15 April, while the whole country was under curfew, a team of policemen proceeded to arrest a young woman for breach of the ICT Act, after receiving a complaint by a government nominated board member of the ICT Authority.

The Centre for Law and Democracy expressed their concern regarding such an arrest for political satire.

The young woman spent a night in police custody for having posted an image showing a news broadcaster with a captioned photo of the Mauritian Prime Minister and text that joked about world leaders who are going to hold a press conference to ask the Mauritian Prime Minister about his miracle treatment & method for COVID-19.

As it appears the meme or joke caused such annoyance and inconvenience to the ICT Authority's board member that he decided to spend 2 hours at the CCID Cybercrime Unit to complain about it. L'express newspaper reported that the board member expressed on Facebook that he did so for his boss, his PM, and his country.

Now, one may wonder whether this board member of the ICT Authority really has acted out of love for his prime minister or is it a show of loyalty; often the case with persons holding a nominated position in government offices. Whichever reason the complainant may have, this particular incident points towards an abuse of the ICT Act, through the manner of the arrest and act of intimidation of behalf of people of authority.

Did you complain to the Consumer Protection Unit?

I watched the press conference of the National Communication Committee on COVID-19 last evening. A journalist asked Dr. Joomye a question pertaining to supermarkets that have doubled prices on certain products.

Dr. Joomye answered that only 38 complaints were received and that many people are complaining on social media rather doing it through the right channel. Despite this 180 commercial outlets were visited by the inspectors of the Ministry of Commerce on 7 April and several of them were booked for various contraventions.

I also see a lot of people complaining on social media. Officers of the Consumer Protection Unit do not spend their time reading comments on Facebook. If we want to fix unreasonable high prices in supermarkets then we should all use the proper channels to complain.

A few days ago I saw a post shared by a friend on Facebook. See the receipt from a supermarket in Mahebourg.

Source: Facebook (https://bit.ly/3e3PjI2)

As per the client, he purchased a packet of cigarettes which is Rs 150 usually but the supermarket charged him Rs 175 during this coronavirus confinement period. It is only afterward that he realized that the supermarket charged him the additional Rs 25 as miscellaneous. If this avers true then the person should have complained about it to the Consumer Protection Unit rather than posting on Facebook to draw likes & comments.

I cannot verify the authenticity of the supermarket receipt and whether the person having posted it is sharing the complete story, but I am only using it as an example.

How to report?

If you notice that shopkeepers and supermarket owners are abusing on the prices, please inform the Consumer Protection Unit through their hotline 185 or email consumerpu@govmu.org.

Data protection poorly understood in Mauritius 🥺

Mauritius counted 186 positive COVID-19 cases including 7 deaths as at 3 April.

With the rise of cases I notice a lot of people calling the authorities to release personal information of patients having tested positive for the novel coronavirus. People think the release of such personal information will make contact tracing a much quicker exercise.

I've had arguments with people on Facebook. I even reported people to the Cybercrime Unit for breaching the Data Protection Act by sharing the personal information of COVID-19 patients.

People argue that contact tracing will be faster if personal information of patients is released. Many are citing the example of how South Korea released information to accelerate contact tracing. Unfortunately, people do not read or enquire properly.

South Korea has an experience dealing from previous epidemics, such as the MERS outbreak in 2015. Their medical personnel and relevant authorities were able to quickly step up with containment plans.

South Korean authorities did not release personal information of patients. It is wrong to assume that.

Legislation enacted since then gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts. That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow others to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Information shared by the South Korean authorities were anonymized.

Chaos reigns as supermarkets re-open in Mauritius today

Despite the strict guidelines laid out by the authorities and all the sanitary precautions advised by medical officers through various channels, Social Distancing remains an alien term to many.

Supermarkets and shops started operating as from 09h00 today, as it was announced by the Prime Minister a few days ago.

Alas! It's chaos... at most of the major hypermarkets of the island. A long queue of people can be seen at Super U, Grand Baie. A similar trend is observed at other supermarkets, as posted by l'express.

Images source: l'express page on Facebook

Last night a 20 years old girl died at the New Souillac Hospital. She was admitted about a week ago after testing positive to COVID-19. She is the sixth and youngest fatal victim of COVID-19 in Mauritius. As per Dr. V. Gujadhur of the National Communication Committee, she might have gotten infected while frequently visiting a supermarket in her locality.

It appears that this story does not overwhelm people enough to prevent them from storming the supermarkets early on.

The supermarkets and shops will operate till 17h00 today. If you go there and find a long queue please don't be like the rest, just return home and check again later. Every family can make provisions twice per week as per the alphabetical order published by the National Communication Committee.

Also, you do not necessarily need to head to the hypermarkets as you will probably find the essential items in a nearby shop which might be less crowded.

Stay safe !

Supermarkets re-open in Mauritius amid curfew

In his press conference, last evening, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, announced that the sanitary curfew is being extended till 15 April. The extension has been prompted by the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. As at date we have registered 143 COVID-19 cases, three of which have been fatal. None of the patients have undergone full recovery so far.

An extended curfew means that people will be confined to their houses for a longer time. Therefore, many families require food provisions.

The Prime Minister announced that supermarkets and shops will re-open as from 2 April but under strict conditions. In today's press conference by the National Communication Committee, the conditions were announced in detail.

Supermarkets and shops will operate from 09h00 - 17h00, Monday to Saturday. Access to the supermarkets will be allowed on alphabetical order. For this purpose, everyone should bring their national identity card with them and expats should bring their passport or residential/work permit. Identity verification will be done before access is granted to the shops.

Alphabetical order as per family name will be as follows:

  • A to F, Monday and Thursday
  • G to N, Tuesday and Friday
  • O to Z, Wednesday and Saturday

All supermarkets and shops will be closed on Sundays. Actions will be taken against shop owners who do not abide to the rules.

There will be further controls before people can gain access to supermarkets, e.g temperature reading. If people are found to have a temperature above 37.5°C or they are coughing/sneezing, they will be required to step away from the queue. They will have to wait for a hospital ambulance to come and they will taken to the hospital for a further medical check-up.

People who gain access to the supermarket will be allowed to use only one caddy which will be disinfected by the supermarket personnel. Hand sanitizer will be provided.

Once inside the supermarket people will have to go through a traced line to collect items they need which will have specific limits (e.g three packets of rice, flour and oil). People will have to follow the line and move forward only, no turning back.

Following the above controlled access to supermarkets and shops, every family will be able to make food provisions twice per week.

These strict guidelines are laid to limit interaction between people. I sincerely hope that people going to the supermarkets adhere to the guidelines for their own protection and the protection of others.

What is an essential food pack?

Last week several online shopping services sprouted to answer the call of numerous people who needed food provisions amid the COVID-19 confinement. I say « services » rather than websites because some of them are operating through Facebook pages, Messenger, WhatsApp or even text messages.

Two things are bugging in most of the services. They are:

  • high price
  • poorly thought food pack

The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry recommends the following online shopping websites:

  • theshop.mu
    Not taking new orders at the moment as they do not have delivery slots available. Individual products cannot be ordered. They inform customers that new packs varied as per customers' requests will be available soon.
  • priceguru.mu
    An SOS Essential Basket at Rs 3,610 (incl. VAT).
Screenshot taken on 30 March 2020

The basket includes the following:

Advertised as « SOS COVID-19 3ème Age » Food Essentials Basket, the basket is clearly not for a vegetarian family. 😔 Besides why forcing 9 packs of Macaroni on the customer? Keep the list smaller to reduce the price and be able to deliver to more families.

Price Guru also tossed the term contactless delivery. 🤔

  • shopwise.mu

Shop Wise is closed right now.

  • ordermanzer.mu

OrderManzer offers a Basic Pack and a Vegetables Pack, both at Rs 1,500 each.

  • dreamprice.mu

Dream Price informs its customers (on the website) that they have reached the maximum order limit and that they shall communicate once they can take new orders. They offer several packs, namely:

  • Basic Pack (contains staple food, salt, sugar, tuna, mackerel, etc.)
  • Non Food Pack (contains soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, washing machine powder, etc.)
  • Baby Pack (contains baby diaper & wipes, but no baby food/milk.)
  • Adult Pack (contains adult diaper)

Today, Winner's re-launched their online shopping service. I had great hopes that they will stop this trend of poorly thought essential packs and rather focus on letting people choose the products they need from a limited set and limited number to pick.

Alas, they offer Essential Packs too, just like the others. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Both « paniers » by Winner's contain Tuna & Sardine. 🐟

I asked myself the question, what is an Essential Food Pack? Shouldn't it be a universal food package (i.e caters for both vegetarians & non-vegetarians) that comes at a very affordable price and be able to last for a longer period of time?

If one goes for the Winner's Panier 1, then what happens when the Tuna/Sardine is over? The family has to purchase another pack and get more flour/rice/oil which they probably do not need. 😐

Does a low income family find themself being able to buy food packs for as long as this confinement lasts?

Okay, for a moment, let's say for the sake of simplicity and rapid service the supermarkets adopted this « food packing » trend (copying a messed up idea that someone started), then, couldn't the supermarkets come up with properly varied packs at just a few hundreds of rupees rather than being Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000 plus?

What can be done?

Supermarkets (and online shopping websites) can offer simple packages without the possibility of choosing any particular brand. Examples:

  • Staple Food Pack (Rice/Flour/Oil/Sugar/Salt)
  • Canned Food Pack (Non-Veg)
  • Canned Food Pack (Veg)
  • Pasta Pack (Macaroni/Torti/Noodles/Pasta Sauce)
  • Baby Food Pack (Baby Food/Milk)
  • Hygiene Pack General (Soap/Toothpaste/Toothbrush/Hand Sanitizer/Toilet Paper)
  • Hygiene Pack Ladies (Feminine hygiene products)
  • Hygiene Pack Babies (Diapers/Wipes/Lotion)

The above are a just a few ideas and each of those packages should be such that they do not exceed Rs 500. Then, families will be able combine the different packages to obtain what they lack the most.

Over 100 positive COVID-19 cases in Mauritius & supermarkets are re-opening soon

We have reached 102 positive COVID-19 cases in Mauritius, including two deaths. This was announced last evening by the National Communication Committee.

Two hospitals have been dedicated to treat COVID-19 patients only; the New Souillac Hospital and the New ENT Hospital.

Local cases of COVID-19 are being identified daily. Despite this alarm, the curfew, and the confinement, people do not seem to follow strict hygiene guidelines. Press reports show how people are queueing up at gas stations, close to each other; some not properly covered.

Meanwhile, the much awaited online shopping for groceries, which received the government's approval, was an utter disappointed, both in terms of service and price. The essential food packs offered by several of the providers were poorly thought; vegetarians/vegans or people with food allergies were totally excluded.

People expressed « trust issues » with the choice of online shopping websites recommended by the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


It is a big opportunity missed by the major grocery shops as they failed to come up with proper plans & logistics.

Following the « cafouillage » by the providers of online shopping services, the government is now considering to re-open the supermarkets under conditions which are to be announced.

Announcing guidelines a day before the supermarkets open will not be helpful. You must have noticed that in the past few days several measures were announced by the government but those clearly lacked the planning to be enforced properly. I have a feeling that the opening of the supermarkets could end up causing more harm.

I urge people who need to make food provisions, once the supermarkets are open, to please do so by following strict hygiene guidelines and also consider the safety of others. 😷 🧴

Image source: World Health Organization

If you are sick, please do not go to the supermarket. Ask a friend or relative to make the provisions for you. If you cannot seek help from friends or relatives, then call the nearest police station and explain them your situation. 🚓 👮🏻

For medical emergencies related to COVID-19, please call the hotline 8924.

Court appearing through WhatsApp

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, announced a complete lockdown of all supermarkets, shops and bakeries, two days ago. This comes on top of the nationwide confinement that started exactly a week ago.

People are thus confined in their homes. Essential services, like healthcare & sanitary services, police and the fire services are operational. The Courts of Mauritius are operational to a strict minimum too.

The Supreme Court of Mauritius, by order of the Chief Justice, Hon. Eddy Balancy, issued a communique stating that all Courts will remain closed until the end of the confinement. However, district magistrates will remain available through technological means in District Courts to listen to urgent matters such as requests for conditional freedom for first time offenders, cancellation of arrest warrants, protection orders concerning children and victims of domestic violence.

Yesterday, the Anti-Robbery Squad arrested a person after the latter posted on Facebook that people are « rioting » in a particular region in Mauritius.

The Mauritius Police Force are tougher against anything that amounts to fake news or the spread of fake news during an already tensed situation like the current COVID-19 crisis.

A day later, that is today, the person's conditional freedom plea was heard by a magistrate of the District Court of Black River (Bambous), through WhatsApp and the decision to allow bail was given through same. While court cases heard through video conferencing is not a new thing in Mauritius, it is definitely a first that a common online messaging tool such as WhatsApp has been used to hear a court plea.

Bravo for ensuring that justice is served (even amid a crisis)! ⚖️