Mauritius had a pivotal role in the evolution and spread of state human rights institutions in the 1960s. The island offered an influential model for how an ombudsman, a Scandinavian mechanism, could be transported to postcolonial, economically developing, and multi-racial countries. However, this was a compromised mechanism that fell short of local ambitions for an effective guarantee of individual rights, minority protections, and socioeconomic justice. This article argues that the Mauritian ombudsman embodied the uneven power-laden struggles of the postcolonial transition, where British colonial imperatives and jealousy over sovereign authority predominated. With the use of private papers, British archival records, and Mauritian legislative debates, the article examines the relationship between decolonization and the early precursors to national human rights institutions, later popularized in the 1990s. The findings are critical for recognizing the inherent limitations of these institutions and the forgotten possibilities imagined by some anti-colonial actors for remaking postcolonial society.