Court appearing through WhatsApp

Ish Sookun

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)! ⚖️