Having worked for over 25 years in the Police force, inspector Jaylall Boojhawon explains that procedures such as strip search are normal. He explains that once detained at the police station, the suspect’s data is recorded and he is informed of his constitutional rights.
“Every time we arrest a suspect and he/she is to be detained in police cell, we conduct a strip search. This is done for various reasons. He/she is searched to ensure his/her safety and that of the police officers, meaning for security reasons. We also search the suspect to ensure that he/she has no wounds on the body. Another important reason is to ensure that the suspect is not hiding any dangerous and sharp objects such as razor blades or any drugs in some of their body parts,” he says.
The inspector reveals that they have come across many cases where suspects hide drugs and other objects in their body cavities and that these have led to unexpected situations. He further explains about the importance of the strip search.
“The strip search is done in all prisons every day not only in Mauritius but all around the world. If this is not done properly and the suspect enters the cell with sharp objects, he can harm himself, others as well as Police officers. If the suspects get in with drugs, he can consume it and share it with others. Can we put a suspect in cell without going through this procedure? It is Police duty,” he utters.
Commenting of the David Gaiqui case, Inspector Boojhawon states that the strip search was done in private. “If the Police officers were doing something wrong or against the law, they would have closed the door. Why the door was left opened? We can speak of humiliation only if this was done in public but it is not the case at all. Moreover, a strip search is done within minutes. Can the picture determine for how long was the suspect in such state?”
He further adds that the picture does not depict if there has been any kind of torture done to the suspect. “Do you see whether the suspect has been brutalised in anyway? Do you see any marks or wounds on his body? No torture or brutality is done during the strip search. Also, has the suspect been examined by a doctor to determine if there were any traces of scratches and wounds on his body?”
The inspector also explains that the suspect was not ‘chained’ but handcuffed. “People are using words that cause confusion. The suspect was handcuffed and footcuffed. Again, this is a normal procedure especially when the suspect is deemed as violent. This suspect (David Gaiqui) is known to the police and was formally sentenced for a case of theft. He had robbed a salesman with a sabre and a revolver. Thus, if any suspect has violent tendencies, he is handcuffed and footcuffed to ensure his protection, that of police officers and other people as well.”
The inspector argues that the authenticity of the picture of the suspect is doubtful. “This picture was taken on a mobile phone and shared on social networks. The then lawyer of the suspect must definitely know that he has already tampered the picture by doing so. There were many other ways he could have denounced what he has witnessed. Firstly, he could have complained with the Police officers and made an entry. Secondly, he could have fielded a deposition at the Curepipe Police station and thirdly, he could have seized the writ of ‘habeas corpus’ at the Supreme Court, where the magistrate will order officers to bring the suspect before him/her,” explains the inspector.
He trusts that we must let the Human Rights Commission do its enquiry and draw its conclusions. “Let the enquiry determine if there was any kind of brutality or torture. Only then will we be able to take the necessary sanctions against the Police officers. They Police Officers Solidarity Union denounce the unnecessary suspension of the Police officers. If the Police Commissioner does so, he will, in order words, be stating that the Police officers are at fault. These will definitely demoralise the Police officers around Mauritius. It is too easy to do a smear campaign on the Police.”
Jaylall Boojhawon states that he believes that the lawyers are causing unnecessary trouble. By sharing this picture online, they could have caused serious social issues. As responsible lawyers, they should have realised that. I believe that, according to Section 60 of the Penal Code, they have been inciting the public to rise and according to Section 152, they have been inciting rebellion,” states the Inspector.
He adds that not later than Wednesday, a suspect was arrested and strip searched and drugs were found on him. “The suspect had concealed a container which contained drugs in his anus. Thus, if this strip search was not done, what could have happened?”