On 12th August 2015, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Ms Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, presented the findings of her visit to Mauritius, from 28th April to 8th May 2015, at the Thirtieth session of the Human Rights Council. DIS-MOI had a working session with the Independent Expert at the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Port-Louis. The visit of the Independent Expert was conducted pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 20/24 at the invitation of the Government.
In the course of my research, I have come across two very interesting and thought provoking documents on the web (social.un.org documents) which refer extensively to the report of the Independent Expert.
1. Right to Autonomy and Independence of Older Persons
Mauritius has ratified several international treaties that are of relevance to older persons. Mauritius is a party to the following:
(a) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol thereto;
(b) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
(c) The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
(d) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol thereto;
(e) The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol thereto;
(f) Mauritius is a member of the African Union and has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
“The National Human Rights Commission recommends that Mauritius ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons.’’
Since its inception in 2012, DIS-MOI, which subscribes to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (and also to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) has been constantly requesting the competent authorities to proceed with the signature of the Protocol and to its ratification. Some 14 countries have signed and the Continent is not far from bringing the Protocol to the altar of human rights defence and protection in the interest of its older citizens.
So now, we feel comfortable to have a strategic stakeholder supporting this stand, which we would like to see the Government entertain.
2. Report of the UN Independent Expert
Ombudsperson for the Elderly
DIS-MOI has this year proposed that Government set up an Office of the Ombudsperson for Older Persons and by way of press articles requested all political parties engaged in the last legislative elections to include this proposal in their respective manifesto.
At para 23 of the Report of the Independent Expert, we read : “The Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions is in charge of the Elder Care Department, which is mainly responsible for medical, paramedical and medicosocial services, and health education. The Independent Expert was pleased to learn that the Minister announced the setting up of a new elderly welfare department at the Ministry and an Ombudsperson for the elderly.’’
Here again, DIS-MOI feels comfortable with this intention and prays that the freshly-elected Government brings up this proposal, as the creation of an office of Ombudsperson will mark more than a defining step in the protection of the rights of older persons.
By Vijay Naraidoo
President of the Commission for the Rights of Older People of DIS-MOI
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