A series of talks on human rights in the Citizen Advice Bureaux (CAB) kickstarted on 14 February 2017 at the Social Welfare Centre of St Pierre. The awareness campaign will be carried out throughout the year to cover the 35 CAB in Mauritius.
The campaign is a joint initiative of the National Development Unit of the Prime Minister’s Unit and the National Human Rights Commission. Spread till November 2017, it will target 2 000 people to help citizens better understand their rights and responsibilities.
The three-hour programme comprises three topics: an introduction to human rights; where to channel complaints in case of abuse of the police force; and the rights of prisoners. The Constitution of Mauritius and the role of the National Human Rights Commission are also on the agenda. Resource persons are officers from the National Commission of Human Rights.
Present at St Pierre, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, pointed out that this sensitisation campaign will help men and women in their daily lives since they are fundamentals that all human beings need.
She recalled that human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace. Every person has these rights simply because they are human beings. They are guaranteed to everyone without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Human rights are essential to the full development of individuals and communities, she added.
Instilling a culture of human rights
The awareness campaign at CAB level is part of government's policy to instill a culture of human rights among citizens. This is reflected in the strengthening of the legislative framework, the elaboration of a National Human Rights Action Plan to integrate best human rights practices into policies and programmes at the sectoral level, and training and awareness campaigns including vulnerable groups.
The aim is to raise citizens' awareness of their rights in society while encouraging them to respect the rights of others. Human rights education promotes the establishment of societies respectful of the values of human dignity. Indeed, knowledge of human rights by a large number of women and men is essential in order for these rights to become a reality for society as a whole.
In addition to training sessions for citizens, Mauritius works to adopt a human rights culture by making commitments to international instruments. The country has thus adhered to several human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Charter On human rights, among others.
Human Rights sensitisation campaign in CAB
The campaign at the CAB level was initiated in August 2011 as part of a training and awareness programme. To date, some 6 000 citizens have been trained and sensitised, including some 100 members of non-governmental organisations.
In addition, many young people have benefited from the education programme focusing on active citizenship and human rights through Youth Centres.