Pravind Jugnauth a répondu à la PNQ de Xavier Luc Duval sur l’affaire Soodhun qui a secoué le gouvernement et l public il y a quelques jours.
To ask the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communication and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development –
Whether, in regard to Honourable Showkutally Soodhun, MP, former Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Lands, he will state/for the benefit of the House, obtain, inter alia, from the Commissioner of Police and the Independent Commission against Corruption, information as to where matters stand as to the various inquiries carried out in relation thereto, indicating what further action, if any, he proposes to take in regard thereto?
Let me at the outset remind the House in no uncertain terms that the presumption of innocence is a sacrosanct human right in our ‘état de droit’, a right which as a democrat and as a lawyer I uphold.
Madam Speaker, I wish to reiterate that I do not, and I will neither condone nor tolerate any attempt from any individual, whoever he or she may be, to flout the law, in particular, to destabilise the social harmony in the country.
Since, I joined politics, I have always laid emphasis on unity in diversity and the imperative not to discriminate but to give equal treatment to each and every component of the Mauritian society.
As citizens of our united rainbow nation, we are all peace lovers, and we all wish our unity to be strengthened while preserving the splendour and richness of our diversity. We should not say, not write, and not do anything to endanger our social fabric which is sensitive and fragile.
Taking into account, on the one hand, the importance of preserving our social fabric and upholding national interest, and on the other hand the allegations levelled against Hon Showkutally Soodhun, I have asked him to step down as Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands so as to ensure that the police inquiry is conducted and is seen to be conducted without bias or any perception of bias.
I have been informed by the Commissioner of Police that:
(i) six cases have been reported against Hon Soodhun in relation to alleged acts of stirring up racial hatred. Out of these six cases, two relate to precautionary measures. However, all the six cases arise out of the same facts;
(ii) one case has been reported on behalf of Hon Soodhun against a person for reported breach of the Information and Communication Technologies Act.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that an enquiry has been initiated in all the seven cases I have referred to.
I am also informed by the Commissioner of Police that eight other cases ranging from alleged defamation, publishing false news, breach of Information and Communication Technologies Act, sedition and outrage against Depository of Public Authority have been reported against Hon. Soodhun.
I wish to inform the House that, in relation to two of the reported cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions has advised prosecution for an offence different from that reported against Hon. Soodhun. In fact, a case of alleged sedition and of stirring up racial hatred had been reported against Hon Soodhun but the Director of Public Prosecutions has advised prosecution for outrage against Depository of Public Authority.
I am also informed by the Commissioner of Police that 14 cases ranging from breach of the Information and Communication Technologies Act, diffusing false news swearing false affidavits to criminal defamation have been reported to the Police by Hon. Soodhun against other persons. Except for two cases, namely,
(i) for breach of Information and Communication Technologies Act; and
(ii) for publishing false news,
in which the DPP has advised no further action. All the other cases are still under enquiry.
Concerning the Independent Commission Against Corruption, I wish to highlight that by virtue of section 81 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, no information relating to any investigation can be disclosed on any case investigated or under investigation by the ICAC, except as provided for under sections 81(4) and 81(5) of the Act.
In addition, under section 61(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Parliamentary Committee, which includes Members of Parliament, is precluded from seeking information on any investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
I seize this opportunity to reassure the House and the Nation at large that as Prime Minister I will ensure that unity, harmony and peace prevail at all times in the country which we all love so much.
I said it before and I repeat it today: I have a sacred mission and that includes preserving and consolidating Mauritius as an ever-lasting haven of peace and harmony.
I appeal to all Members of this August Assembly and to the population to join hands together in fulfilling this mission.