Mauritius Human Rights - History

Mauritius Human Rights - History

A. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The constitution and law provide for the rights of workers, including foreign workers, to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. Workers are free to form and join unions and to organize in all sectors, including in the export-oriented enterprises (EOE), formerly known as the export-processing zone. The Police (Membership of Trade Union) Act came into force on January 9 and allows police officers to form and join unions. The amendment specifies, however, that “a federation of police officers shall not join with any other federation to form a confederation, except with another federation of police officers.” The law grants authorities the right to cancel a union’s registration if it fails to comply with certain legal obligations. The law provides for a commission to investigate and mediate labor disputes, and a program to provide unemployment benefits and job training. The law allows unions to conduct their activities without government interference.

The law establishes a mandatory, complex, and excessively lengthy process for declaring a legal strike. This process calls for labor disputes to be reported to the Commission for Conciliation and Mediation only after meaningful negotiations have occurred and the parties involved have reached a deadlock--a process that is not to exceed 90 days unless the parties involved agree. If the parties reach no compromise, the workers may call a strike. Even if workers follow this procedure, the law allows the government to prohibit a strike and refer the dispute to arbitration if the strike could seriously affect an industry or service or threaten employment. The law requires workers in many sectors to provide minimum service levels in the event of a strike, including sectors that international standards do not classify as “essential services.” The law prohibits strikes and other demonstrations during the sittings of the National Assembly and does not allow unions to organize strikes at the national level or concerning general economic policy issues.

Worker participation in an unlawful strike is sufficient grounds for dismissal, but workers may seek a remedy in court if they believe their dismissals were unjustified. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, but it does not provide for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity. Dismissed workers can turn to the Industrial Relations Court to seek redress.

National labor laws cover all workers in the formal and informal sectors, with exceptions in the EOE pertaining to overtime. Although the informal economy has grown over the years, there has been no research on or estimate of the size of the informal economy, which traditionally includes street vending of food and clothing.

The government effectively enforced applicable laws, but there were a few delays in procedures and appeals. Penalties for violations by employers, including fines of up to 25,000 rupees ($750), were insufficient to deter violations.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were generally respected, and workers exercised these rights. Most unions collectively negotiated wages higher than those set by the National Remuneration Board (NRB). Worker organizations were independent of the government and political parties. There were no reports of government interference in union activities.

Despite the law, antiunion discrimination remained a problem in the private sector. Some employers in the EOE reportedly continued to establish employer-controlled work councils for EOE workers, effectively blocking union efforts to organize at the enterprise level. Approximately 59,000 persons worked in the EOE; only 10 percent belonged to unions.

B. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits most forms of forced or compulsory labor, including by children. The government made some efforts to prevent and eliminate forced labor in the country (see section 7.c.), but resources, inspections, and remediation were inadequate. Penalties for violations, including 30 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking, were sufficient to deter violations. Data on the number of victims removed from forced or compulsory labor situations during the year were not available.

Trade unionists reported cases of forced labor during the year among migrant workers involving passport confiscation, underpayment of wages, substandard living conditions, lack of clearly defined work titles, denial of meal allowances, and deportation. As of November 1, there were an estimated 39,454 migrant workers in the country, mainly from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, and Madagascar. In addition, Malagasy women reportedly transited the country while traveling to other countries, where employers subjected them to forced labor conditions.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

C. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits the employment of children younger than 16 and prohibits employment of children under 18 in work that is dangerous, unhealthy, or otherwise unsuitable for young persons. The penalties for employing a child are a fine of no more than 10,000 rupees ($300) and imprisonment not to exceed one year.

The Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, and Employment is responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws and conducted frequent inspections of businesses in the formal economy. The ministry developed vocational training programs to prevent employment of underage children and conducted programs to identify and integrate street children into its vocational training program.

While the government generally respected this law, it did not effectively enforce it, especially in the informal sector. Children worked in the informal sector, including as street traders, and in small businesses, restaurants, agriculture, small apparel workshops, and retail shops.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings/.

D. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

Labor laws and regulations prohibit discrimination regarding race, sex, gender, disability, sexual orientation, HIV-positive status or having other communicable diseases, social status, religion, political opinion, and national origin. The law affords women broadly defined wage protections and requires equal pay for equal work for both men and women; it also states that employers should not force women to carry loads above certain weight limits. The government did not effectively enforce these laws and regulations.

Discrimination in employment and occupation with respect to gender, race, disability, and HIV/AIDS status occurred. While women had equal access to education, the private sector paid women less than men for substantially similar work. Women filled few decision-making positions in the private sector, and there were even fewer women sitting on corporate boards. In 2015 the police recruited 10 female police riders for its Traffic Enforcement Squad. The first female firefighter was recruited in 2011, and recruitment since has brought the total number to 14. A large majority of women held unskilled labor jobs.

The law requires organizations employing more than 35 persons to set aside at least 3 percent of their positions for persons with disabilities, but the government was not always effective in enforcing this law. The main reason for the low employment rate of persons with disabilities was inaccessible workplaces.

Many community leaders claimed there was discrimination in the employment of Creoles (citizens of African descent) and Muslims in the public service.

There were unsubstantiated reports of discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients and their relatives, involving foreign workers whose work permits were denied by authorities due to their HIV status.

On November 23, the 2017 Equal Opportunities Amendment Bill came into force to counter abuses under the 2012 Certificate of Character Act, which requires employees to provide proof to their employers that they have no criminal record. The new amendment protects employees from being fired due to a criminal record on their certificate of character that “is irrelevant to the nature of the employment for which that person is being considered.” Previously, some workers complained employers fired them once the employer learned they lacked a clean certificate of character. Many individuals complained the certificate makes no distinction between minor offenses, such as street littering, and more serious offenses. Observers noted all offenses remain permanently on the certificate of character.

E. Acceptable Conditions of Work

In the private sector, the NRB sets minimum wages for nonmanagerial workers outside the EOE. The established minimum wages varied by sector. The government mandated the minimum wage rise each year based on the inflation rate. The minimum wage for an unskilled domestic worker in the EOE was approximately 607 rupees ($18) per week, while the minimum wage for an unskilled domestic factory worker outside the EOE was approximately 794 rupees ($24) per week. According to the National Empowerment Fund, the national poverty threshold was a household monthly income level of 6,200 rupees ($186).

By law employers cannot force a worker outside the EOE to work more than eight hours a day, six days a week. The standard legal workweek in the EOE is 45 hours. According to a local trade union, the Mauritius Labor Congress, 10 hours of overtime a week is nonetheless mandatory at certain textile factories in the EOE. Regulations require remuneration for those who work more than their stipulated hours at one and a half times the normal salary rate. Those who work during their stipulated hours on public holidays are remunerated at double their normal salary rate. The law provides for paid annual holidays but does not prohibit compulsory overtime in the EOE. For industrial positions, regulations do not permit workers to work more than 10 hours a day. The law requires the Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, and Employment to investigate cases of overtime violations. If an employer fails to take action to address the violations (for example, by paying wages owed or allowing 11-hour breaks), the ministry initiates a court action.

The Employment Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act cover the laws relating to acceptable conditions of work outside the EOE. These laws provide for a standard workweek and paid annual holidays, require premium pay for overtime, and prohibit compulsory overtime. A worker (other than a part-time worker or a watchperson) and an employer may agree, however, to have the employee work in excess of the stipulated hours without added remuneration, if the number of hours covered in a 14-day period does not exceed 90 hours or a lesser number of hours as agreed to by both parties.

The government sets occupational safety and health standards. By law workers can remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in these situations; however, workers did not always exercise this right.

Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, and Employment officials inspected working conditions. The ministry employed labor and industrial relations officers, including labor inspectors in the Migrant Labor Unit, to investigate all reports of labor abuses. Despite an increase in the number of inspectors in the Migrant Labor Unit, the number was insufficient to enforce compliance. Penalties were not always sufficient to deter violations. The ministry effectively enforced the minimum wage law in the formal sector. Authorities generally applied these standards to both foreign and citizen workers.

The actual market wage for most workers was much higher than the minimum wage due to a labor shortage and collective bargaining. There were reports, however, that employers did not always pay full-time employees in the cleaning industry the NRB-recommended minimum wage; some reportedly received only 1,500 rupees ($45) per month.

Unions reported cases of underpayment for overtime in the textile and apparel industries due to differences in existing legislation and remuneration orders for the calculation of overtime hours.

Employers did not always comply with safety regulations, resulting in occupational accidents. There were reports of foreign workers living in dormitories having unsanitary conditions.

There were two industrial accidents during the year that resulted in death. Major industrial accidents, which injured or killed workers, historically occurred mainly in the construction and manufacturing sectors.


Mauritius Human Rights - History

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

3. In this section, 'discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision –

aa. for a minimum number of candidates for election to local authorities to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex on a local authority
ab. for a minimum number of candidates for election to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex in the Rodrigues Regional Assembly
… (Sec. 16)

Citizenship and Nationality

1. Every person who, having been born in Mauritius, was on 11 March 1968 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
2. Every person who, on 11 March 1968, was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies –
a. having become such a citizen under the British Nationality Act 1948, by virtue of his having been naturalised by the Governor of the former Colony of Mauritius as a British subject before that Act came into force or
b. having become such a citizen by virtue of his having been naturalised or registered by the Governor of the former Colony of Mauritius under that Act,
became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
3. Every person who, having been born outside Mauritius, was on 11 March 1968 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, if either of his parents became, or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of subsection (1) or subsection (2), became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
4. For the purposes of this section, a person shall be regarded as having been born in Mauritius if he was born in the territories which were comprised in the former Colony of Mauritius immediately before 8 November 1965 but were not so comprised immediately before 12 March 1968 unless either of his parents was born in the territories which were comprised in the Colony of Seychelles immediately before 8 November 1965. (Sec. 20)

Citizenship and Nationality

1. Any person who, on 12 March 1968, was or had been married to another person –
a. who became a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of section 20 2 or
b. who, having died before 12 March 1968 would, but for his death, have become a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of section 20,
shall be entitled, upon making application and, if he is a British protected person or an alien, upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius:
Provided that, in the case of any person who, on 12 March 1968 was not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, the right to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius under this section shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interest of national security or public policy.
2. Any application for registration under this section shall be made in such manner as may be prescribed as respects that application. (Sec. 21)

Citizenship and Nationality

Every person born in Mauritius after 11 March 1968 shall become a citizen of Mauritius at the date of his birth:
Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of this section if at the time of his birth
a. neither of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius or
b. either of his parents is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by the enemy. (Sec. 22)

Citizenship and Nationality

A person born outside Mauritius after 11 March 1968 shall become a citizen of Mauritius at the date of his birth if at that date either of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius otherwise than by virtue of this section or section 20(3). (Sec. 23)

Citizenship and Nationality

Any person who, after 11 March 1968, marries another person who is or becomes a citizen of Mauritius shall be entitled, up on making application in such manner as may be prescribed and, if he is a British protected person or an alien, upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius:
Provided that the right to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius under this section shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy. (Sec. 24)

Citizenship and Nationality

1. Parliament may make provision
a. for the acquisition of citizenship of Mauritius by persons who are not eligible or who are no longer eligible to become citizens of Mauritius by virtue of this Chapter
b. for depriving of his citizenship of Mauritius any person who is a citizen of Mauritius otherwise than by virtue of section 20, 22 or 23 3
c. for the renunciation by any person of his citizenship of Mauritius or
d. for the maintenance of a register of citizens of Mauritius who are also citizens of other countries. (Sec. 26)

Jurisdiction and Access

1. An appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court to the Judicial Committee as of right in the following cases
a. final decisions, in any civil or criminal proceedings, on questions as to the interpretation of this Constitution
… (Sec. 81)

Jurisdiction and Access

1. Subject to sections 41(5), 64(5) and 101(1) 4 , where any person alleges that any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and that his interests are being or are likely to be affected by such contravention, then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person may apply to the Supreme Court for a declaration and for relief under this section.
2. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction, in any application made by any person in pursuance of subsection (1) or in any other proceedings lawfully brought before the court, to determine whether any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and to make a declaration accordingly:
Provided that the Supreme Court shall, not make a declaration in pursuance of the jurisdiction conferred by this subsection unless it is satisfied that the interests of the person by whom the application under subsection (1) is made or, in the case of other proceedings before the court, a party to these proceedings, are being or are likely to be affected.
3. Where the Supreme Court makes a declaration in pursuance of subsection (2) that any provision of the Constitution has been contravened and the person by whom the application under subsection (1) was made or, in the case of other proceedings before the court, the party in those proceedings in respect of whom declaration is made, seeks relief, the Supreme Court may grant to that person such remedy, being a remedy available against any person in any proceedings in the Supreme Court under any law for the time being in force in Mauritius, as the court considers appropriate.
4. The Chief Justice may make rules with respect to the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court in relation to the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by this section (including rules with respect to the time within which applications shall be made under subsection (1)).
5. Nothing in this section shall confer jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to hear or determine any such question as is referred to in section 37 5 or paragraph 2(5), 3(2) or 4(4) of the First Schedule otherwise than upon an application made in accordance with that section or that paragraph, as the case may be. (Sec. 83)

Jurisdiction and Access

1. Where any question as to the interpretation of this Constitution arises in any court of law established for Mauritius (other than the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court or a court martial) and the court is of opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court shall refer the question to the Supreme Court.
… (Sec. 84)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
a. … the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
2. Subject to subsections (6), (7) and (8), no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting in the performance of any public function conferred by any law or otherwise in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.
3. In this section, 'discriminatory' means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision –

aa. for a minimum number of candidates for election to local authorities to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex on a local authority
ab. for a minimum number of candidates for election to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex in the Rodrigues Regional Assembly

c. for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description.
5. Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualifications specifically relating to race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of a local authority or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes.
6. Subsection (2) shall not apply to anything which is expressly or by necessary implication authorised to be done by any such provision of law as is referred to in subsection (4) or (5).
7. Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) may be subjected to any restriction on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by sections 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, being such a restriction as is authorised by section 9(2), 11(5), 12(2), 13(2), 14(2) or 15(3), as the case may be.
8. Subsection (2) shall not affect any discretion relating to the institution, conduct or discontinuance of civil or criminal proceedings in any court that is vested in any person by or under this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 16)

Obligations of the State

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
… (Sec. 3)

Obligations of Private Parties

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
… (Sec. 3)

Judicial Protection

1. Where any person alleges that any of sections 3 to 16 6 has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter that is lawfully available, that person may apply to the Supreme Court for redress.
2. The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made by any person in pursuance of subsection (1), and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing, or securing the enforcement of, any of sections 3 to 16 to the protection of which the person concerned is entitled:
Provided that the Supreme Court shall not exercise its powers under this subsection if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress for the contravention alleged are or have been available to the person concerned under any other law.
3. The Supreme Court shall have such powers in addition to those conferred by this section as may be prescribed for the purpose of enabling that court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section.
4. The Chief Justice may make rules with respect to the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court, in relation to the jurisdiction and powers conferred upon it by or under this section (including rules with respect to the time within which applications to that court may be made). (Sec. 17)

National Human Rights Bodies

1. There shall bear an ombudsman, whose office shall be a public office.
… (Sec. 96)

National Human Rights Bodies

1. Subject to this section, the Ombudsman may investigate any action taken by any officer or authority to which this section applies in the exercise of administrative functions of that officer or authority, in any case in which a member of, the public claims, or appears to the Ombudsman, to have sustained injustice in consequence of maladministration in connection with the action so taken and in which
a. a complaint under this section is made
b. he is invited to do so by any Minister or other member of the Assembly or
c. he considers it desirable to do so of his own motion.
… (Sec. 97)

Limitations and/or Derogations

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms

and the provisions of this Chapter 7 shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to those rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of those rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest. (Sec. 3)

Limitations and/or Derogations

1. Nothing contained in or done under the authority of a law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5 8 or section 16 9 to the extent that the law authorises the taking during any period of public emergency of measures that are reasonably justifiable for dealing with the situation that exists in Mauritius during that period:
Provided that no law, to the extent that it authorises the taking during a period of public emergency, other than a period during which Mauritius is at war, of measures that would be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5 or section 16 if taken otherwise than during a period of public emergency, shall have effect unless there is in force a Proclamation of the President declaring that, because of the situation existing at the time, the measures authorised by the law are required in the interests of peace, order and good government.
… (Sec. 18)

Marriage and Family Life

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

3. In this section, 'discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision

c. for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description.
… (Sec. 16)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

3. In this section, 'discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.

5. Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualifications specifically relating to race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of a local authority or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes.
… (Sec. 16)

Political Rights and Association

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms

b. freedom of conscience, of expression, of assembly and association … (Sec. 3)

Political Rights and Association

1. Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and, in particular, to form or belong to, trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.
… (Sec. 13)

Political Rights and Association

1. Subject to section 43 10 , a person shall be entitled to be registered as an elector if, and shall not be so entitled unless
a. he is a Commonwealth citizen of not less than the age of 18 years and
b. either he has resided in Mauritius for a period of not less immediately before such date as may be prescribed by Parliament domiciled in Mauritius and is resident, there on the prescribed date.
… (Sec. 42)

Electoral Bodies

1. The Electoral Supervisory Commission shall have general responsibility for and shall supervise, the registration of electors for the election of members of the Assembly and the conduct of elections of such members and the Commission shall have such powers and other functions relating to such registration and such elections as may be prescribed.
2. The Electoral Commissioner shall have such powers and other functions relating to such registration and elections as may be prescribed, and he shall keep the Electoral Supervisory Commission fully informed concerning the exercise of his functions and shall have the right to attend meetings of the Commission and to refer to the Commission for their advice or decision any question relating to his functions.
… (Sec. 41)

Head of State

1. There shall be a President who shall –
a. be the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Mauritius

2. a. The President shall
i. be elected by the Assembly on a motion made by the Prime Minister and supported by the votes of a majority of all the members of the Assembly

3. No person shall be eligible for election to the office of President unless he is a citizen of Mauritius who is not less than 40 years of age and has resided in Mauritius for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the election.
… (Sec. 28)

Head of State

1. The executive authority of Mauritius is vested in the President.
… (Sec. 58)

Vice-President


3. No person shall be eligible for election to the office of President unless he is a citizen of Mauritius who is not less than 40 years of age and has resided in Mauritius for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the election.
… (Sec. 28)

Vice-President

1. Subject to subsection (7), there shall be a Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius.
2. The Vice-President shall
a. be elected in the manner specified in section 28(2)(a)(i) 11 and, subject to this section and section 30, 12 hold office for a term of 5 years and shall be eligible for re-election
b. perform such functions as may be assigned to him by the President.
3. No person shall be eligible for election to the office of Vice-President unless he satisfies the conditions specified in section 28 (3).
… (Sec. 29)

Government

1. There shall be a Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister who shall be appointed by the President.
2. There shall be, in addition to the offices of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney-General, such other offices of Minister of the Government as may be prescribed by Parliament or, subject to any law, established by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister:
Provided that the number of offices of Minister, other than the Prime Minister, shall not be more than 24.
3. The President, acting in his own deliberate judgment shall appoint as Prime Minister the member of the Assembly who appears to him best able to command the support of the majority of the members of the Assembly, and shall, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint the Deputy Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the other Ministers from among the members of the Assembly.
… (Sec. 59)

Government

1. There shall be a Cabinet for Mauritius consisting of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers.
2. The functions of the Cabinet shall be to advise the President in the Government of Mauritius and the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to the Assembly for any advice given to the President by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in execution of his office.
… (Sec. 61)

Legislature

1. There shall be a Parliament for Mauritius, which shall consist of the President and a National Assembly.
2. The Assembly shall consist of persons elected in accordance with the First Schedule, which makes provision for the election of 70 members. (Sec. 31)

Legislature

Subject to section 34 13 , a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Assembly if, and shall not be so qualified unless, he
a. is a Commonwealth citizen of not less than the age of 18 years
b. has resided in Mauritius for a period of, or periods amounting in the aggregate to, not less than 2 years before the date of his nomination for election
c. has resided in Mauritius for a period of not less, than 6 months immediately before that date and
d. is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the Assembly. (Sec. 33)

Legislature

1. Subject to this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Mauritius.
… (Sec. 45)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms

c. the right of the individual to protection for the privacy of his home and other property
… (Sec. 3)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

3. In this section, 'discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision

c. for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description.
… (Sec. 16)

Protection from Violence

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
a. the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person … (Sec. 3)

Protection from Violence

1. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
2. No person shall be required to perform forced labour.
… (Sec. 6)

Protection from Violence

1. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such treatment.
… (Sec. 7)

Public Institutions and Services

1. The law to be applied with respect to any pensions benefits that were granted to any person before 12 March 1968 shall be the law that was in force at the date on which those benefits were granted or any law in force at a later date that is not less favourable to that person.

5. In this section, "pensions benefits" means any pensions, compensation, gratuities or other like allowances for persons in respect of their service as public officers or for the widows, children, dependents or personal representatives of such persons in respect of such service.
… (Sec. 94)

Public Institutions and Services

1. Where under any law any person or authority has a discretion
a. to decide whether or not any pensions benefits shall be granted or
b. to withhold, reduce in amount or suspend any such benefits that have been granted,
those benefits shall be granted and may not be withheld, reduced in amount or suspended unless the appropriate Commission concurs in the refusal to grant the benefits or, as the case may be, in the decision to withhold them, reduce them in amount or suspend them.

6. In this section, "pensions benefits' means any pensions, compensation, gratuities or other like allowances for persons in respect of their service as public officers or for the widows, children, dependents or personal representatives of such persons in respect of such service. (Sec. 95)

Status of the Constitution

This Constitution is the supreme law of Mauritius, and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. (Sec. 2)

Affirmative Action (Broadly)

English

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

3. In this section, 'discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision –

aa. for a minimum number of candidates for election to local authorities to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex on a local authority
ab. for a minimum number of candidates for election to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex in the Rodrigues Regional Assembly
… (Sec. 16)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

1. Every person who, having been born in Mauritius, was on 11 March 1968 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
2. Every person who, on 11 March 1968, was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies –
a. having become such a citizen under the British Nationality Act 1948, by virtue of his having been naturalised by the Governor of the former Colony of Mauritius as a British subject before that Act came into force or
b. having become such a citizen by virtue of his having been naturalised or registered by the Governor of the former Colony of Mauritius under that Act,
became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
3. Every person who, having been born outside Mauritius, was on 11 March 1968 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, if either of his parents became, or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of subsection (1) or subsection (2), became a citizen of Mauritius on 12 March 1968.
4. For the purposes of this section, a person shall be regarded as having been born in Mauritius if he was born in the territories which were comprised in the former Colony of Mauritius immediately before 8 November 1965 but were not so comprised immediately before 12 March 1968 unless either of his parents was born in the territories which were comprised in the Colony of Seychelles immediately before 8 November 1965. (Sec. 20)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

1. Any person who, on 12 March 1968, was or had been married to another person –
a. who became a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of section 20 2 or
b. who, having died before 12 March 1968 would, but for his death, have become a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of section 20,
shall be entitled, upon making application and, if he is a British protected person or an alien, upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius:
Provided that, in the case of any person who, on 12 March 1968 was not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, the right to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius under this section shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interest of national security or public policy.
2. Any application for registration under this section shall be made in such manner as may be prescribed as respects that application. (Sec. 21)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

Every person born in Mauritius after 11 March 1968 shall become a citizen of Mauritius at the date of his birth:
Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Mauritius by virtue of this section if at the time of his birth
a. neither of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius or
b. either of his parents is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by the enemy. (Sec. 22)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

A person born outside Mauritius after 11 March 1968 shall become a citizen of Mauritius at the date of his birth if at that date either of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius otherwise than by virtue of this section or section 20(3). (Sec. 23)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

Any person who, after 11 March 1968, marries another person who is or becomes a citizen of Mauritius shall be entitled, up on making application in such manner as may be prescribed and, if he is a British protected person or an alien, upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius:
Provided that the right to be registered as a citizen of Mauritius under this section shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy. (Sec. 24)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

1. Parliament may make provision
a. for the acquisition of citizenship of Mauritius by persons who are not eligible or who are no longer eligible to become citizens of Mauritius by virtue of this Chapter
b. for depriving of his citizenship of Mauritius any person who is a citizen of Mauritius otherwise than by virtue of section 20, 22 or 23 3
c. for the renunciation by any person of his citizenship of Mauritius or
d. for the maintenance of a register of citizens of Mauritius who are also citizens of other countries. (Sec. 26)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

1. An appeal shall lie from decisions of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court to the Judicial Committee as of right in the following cases
a. final decisions, in any civil or criminal proceedings, on questions as to the interpretation of this Constitution
… (Sec. 81)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

1. Subject to sections 41(5), 64(5) and 101(1) 4 , where any person alleges that any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and that his interests are being or are likely to be affected by such contravention, then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person may apply to the Supreme Court for a declaration and for relief under this section.
2. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction, in any application made by any person in pursuance of subsection (1) or in any other proceedings lawfully brought before the court, to determine whether any provision of this Constitution (other than Chapter II) has been contravened and to make a declaration accordingly:
Provided that the Supreme Court shall, not make a declaration in pursuance of the jurisdiction conferred by this subsection unless it is satisfied that the interests of the person by whom the application under subsection (1) is made or, in the case of other proceedings before the court, a party to these proceedings, are being or are likely to be affected.
3. Where the Supreme Court makes a declaration in pursuance of subsection (2) that any provision of the Constitution has been contravened and the person by whom the application under subsection (1) was made or, in the case of other proceedings before the court, the party in those proceedings in respect of whom declaration is made, seeks relief, the Supreme Court may grant to that person such remedy, being a remedy available against any person in any proceedings in the Supreme Court under any law for the time being in force in Mauritius, as the court considers appropriate.
4. The Chief Justice may make rules with respect to the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court in relation to the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by this section (including rules with respect to the time within which applications shall be made under subsection (1)).
5. Nothing in this section shall confer jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to hear or determine any such question as is referred to in section 37 5 or paragraph 2(5), 3(2) or 4(4) of the First Schedule otherwise than upon an application made in accordance with that section or that paragraph, as the case may be. (Sec. 83)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

1. Where any question as to the interpretation of this Constitution arises in any court of law established for Mauritius (other than the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court or a court martial) and the court is of opinion that the question involves a substantial question of law, the court shall refer the question to the Supreme Court.
… (Sec. 84)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
a. … the protection of the law
… (Sec. 3)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

1. Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.
2. Subject to subsections (6), (7) and (8), no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting in the performance of any public function conferred by any law or otherwise in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.
3. In this section, 'discriminatory' means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages that are not accorded to persons of another such description.
4. Subsection (1) shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision –

aa. for a minimum number of candidates for election to local authorities to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex on a local authority
ab. for a minimum number of candidates for election to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly to be of a particular sex, with a view to ensuring adequate representation of each sex in the Rodrigues Regional Assembly

c. for the application, in the case of persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) (or of persons connected with such persons), of the law with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other like matters that is the personal law applicable to persons of that description.
5. Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) to the extent that it makes provision with respect to standards or qualifications (not being standards or qualifications specifically relating to race, caste, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex) to be required of any person who is appointed to any office in the public service, any office in a disciplined force, any office in the service of a local authority or any office in a body corporate established directly by any law for public purposes.
6. Subsection (2) shall not apply to anything which is expressly or by necessary implication authorised to be done by any such provision of law as is referred to in subsection (4) or (5).
7. Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in subsection (3) may be subjected to any restriction on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by sections 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, being such a restriction as is authorised by section 9(2), 11(5), 12(2), 13(2), 14(2) or 15(3), as the case may be.
8. Subsection (2) shall not affect any discretion relating to the institution, conduct or discontinuance of civil or criminal proceedings in any court that is vested in any person by or under this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 16)

Obligations of the State

English

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
… (Sec. 3)

Obligations of Private Parties

English

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms
… (Sec. 3)

Judicial Protection

English

1. Where any person alleges that any of sections 3 to 16 6 has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then, without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter that is lawfully available, that person may apply to the Supreme Court for redress.
2. The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made by any person in pursuance of subsection (1), and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing, or securing the enforcement of, any of sections 3 to 16 to the protection of which the person concerned is entitled:
Provided that the Supreme Court shall not exercise its powers under this subsection if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress for the contravention alleged are or have been available to the person concerned under any other law.
3. The Supreme Court shall have such powers in addition to those conferred by this section as may be prescribed for the purpose of enabling that court more effectively to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section.
4. The Chief Justice may make rules with respect to the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court, in relation to the jurisdiction and powers conferred upon it by or under this section (including rules with respect to the time within which applications to that court may be made). (Sec. 17)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

1. There shall bear an ombudsman, whose office shall be a public office.
… (Sec. 96)


National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act 1998. It acts mainly as an investigating body for complaints regarding violations of human rights and into complaints against police brutality.

The NHRC consists of 3 Divisions:
1. The Human Rights Division
2. The Police Complaints Division
3. The National Preventive Mechanism Division whose objectives are to: enquire into allegations of violations by public bodies of the human rights set out in Chapter II of the Constitution of Mauritius.


Keywords

1 Linda C. Reif, The Ombudsman, Good Governance and the International Human Rights System (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2004), 1–2.

2 Donald C. Rowat, The Ombudsman Plan: Essays on the Worldwide Spread of an Idea (Toronto: The Canadian Publishers, 1973), 118–19 Bernard Frank, ‘The Ombudsman and Human Rights’, Administrative Law Review 22, no. 3 (1970): 492 Bernard Frank, ‘The Ombudsman – Revisited’, International Bar Journal 6, no. 1 (1975): 48.

3 Rachel Murray, The Role of National Human Rights Institutions at the International and Regional Levels: The Experience of Africa (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2007), 1, 4.

4 On the recent distinction between a ‘classical ombudsman’ and a ‘human rights ombudsman’, see Victor O. Ayeni, ‘Ombudsmen as Human Rights Institutions’, Journal of Human Rights 13, no. 4 (2014): 498–502 Jeong-Woo Koo and Francisco O. Ramirez, ‘National Incorporation of Global Human Rights: Worldwide Expansion of National Human Rights Institutions, 1966–2004’, Social Forces 87, no. 3 (2009): 1324–5 Thomas Pegram, ‘Diffusion Across Political Systems: The Global Spread of National Human Rights Institutions’, Human Rights Quarterly 32, no. 3 (2010): 733–4, 736–7 Reif, Ombudsman, 2–4, 7–9.

5 Thomas Hylland Eriksen, ‘Ethnicity Versus Nationalism’, Journal of Peace Research 28, no. 3 (1991): 263–78 Thomas Hylland Eriksen, ‘A Future-Oriented, Non-Ethnic Nationalism? Mauritius as an Exemplary Case’, Ethnos 58, no. 3–4 (1993): 197–221 Eliphas G. Mukonoweshuro, ‘Containing Political Instability in a Poly-Ethnic Society: The Case of Mauritius’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 14, no. 2 (1991): 199–224 Barbara Wake Carroll and Terrance Carroll, ‘Accommodating Ethnic Diversity in a Modernizing Democratic State: Theory and Practice in the Case of Mauritius’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 23, no. 1 (2000): 120–42.

6 Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mauritius: Report on Mauritius: 1966 (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1968), 13.

7 R. Jeetah, Sookdeo Bissoondoyal: Life and Times (Port Louis, Mauritius: G. Gangaram, 1980), 46 A. R. Mannick, Mauritius: The Development of a Plural Society (Nottingham: Spokesman, 1979), 127, 130 Anthony Greenwood, ‘Mauritius – Constitutional Developments’, Cabinet: Defence and Overseas Policy Committee paper, 25 May 1965, Dominions Office 213/178, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, London (hereafter cited as TNA).

8 Sonia Cardenas, Chains of Justice: The Global Rise of State Institutions for Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 1–2, 60–1, 350–2.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: International and local observers characterized National Assembly elections held in 2014 as free and fair. The constitution provides for filling 62 of the up to 70 National Assembly seats by election. It also provides for the Electoral Supervisory Commission to allocate up to eight additional seats to unsuccessful candidates from any potentially unrepresented community, based on 1972 census statistics, through a procedure known as the Best Loser System (BLS).

Various political observers claimed the BLS undermined national unity and promoted discrimination. In 2012 the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that a requirement obliging citizens running for election to declare their ethnic and religious status violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In response to that ruling, the government amended the constitution in 2014 to exempt candidates in the 2014 legislative elections from having to declare themselves as belonging to one of four recognized “communities”: Hindu, Muslim, Sino-Mauritian, or General Population (those who do not belong to one of the other three categories). The growth of the Muslim and General Population groups relative to the other two communities since 1972 was a particular source of concern, and critics proposed reforms to eliminate the BLS system altogether after the 2014 election. Candidates who did not declare their membership in a specific community during the most recent election were not eligible for a BLS seat.

International observers of the 2014 legislative elections noted some concerns. These included unequal representation because of the failure to redraw electoral district lines to reflect population changes since 1999, a low number of female candidates, inequitable access to media to promote wider coverage of candidates, the counting of ballots on the day after the elections, and the absence of legislation effectively governing the financing of political parties and candidates.

Political Parties and Political Participation: Political parties operated without restriction or outside interference. Opposition parties alleged that the government-owned television station MBC TV favored the ruling party.

Participation of Women and Minorities: The law provides equal rights for women and minorities to vote, run for office, serve as electoral monitors, and otherwise participate in political life on the same basis as men or nonminority citizens. In 2015 Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became the first female president of the country. The law promotes the participation of women in local government by requiring that at least one of three candidates contesting elections in each ward or village be of a gender different from the others. One-third of elected candidates in the 2012 village and municipal elections were women. The law is silent, however, concerning gender balance in national legislative elections. Following the 2014 legislative elections, women constituted only 11 percent of elected members of the National Assembly and 8 percent of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Although the Hindu plurality (48 percent of the population) has dominated politics since independence, the political system did not exclude any groups from participation, although minority groups were significantly underrepresented.


Human Rights Under Siege: More Than Meets The Eye in Mauritius

Behind the white sand veneer lays a nation whose legal system is characterized by flagrant abuses of human rights.

M auritius, a remote African island nation roughly 500 miles east of Madagascar, is certainly not a household name or an immediate travel destination in the United States. Far off the radar of American travelers, the collection of islands has recently jumpstarted a campaign to promote tourism, flaunting its tropical situation and numerous virgin beaches in an attempt to brand itself as Africa’s hidden gem. But it seems there might be more than one reason why the country’s sun-kissed shoreline is markedly off the beaten path.

Behind the white sand veneer lays a nation whose legal system is characterized by flagrant abuses of human rights. The US Department of State’s 2013 Mauritius Human Rights Report cites “security force abuse of suspects and detainees, arbitrary arrests, and prison overcrowding” as principal issues in this regard, and the country has made headlines in recent years over a number a high-profile cases involving what has been described as an “apartheid-style” penal code.

Arbitrary arrests are not uncommon and are often carried out with little to no repercussion for security forces. Add to this an overzealous, almost medieval drug policy, and one has a recipe for statutory disaster. In 2010, just one year after voting in favor of the UN moratorium on the use of the death penalty, Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam called for the reinstatement of capital punishment for drug offenses. To the shock of the international community and harm-reduction NGOs, Ramgoolam proposed the inclusion of Subutex—a prescription drug used to treat opioid dependence—in the class of drugs whose importation could carry the death penalty, warning visitors, “If you cannot live without Subutex, do not come to Mauritius.”

The country’s bizarre drug policy—travelers carrying medications bearing legitimate prescriptions are treated as drug traffickers in the absence of written “authorization” from the prescribing doctor—follows an established pattern of arbitrary and outdated laws. Examples include the illegality of possession of cigarette papers and a blatantly discriminatory provision in the Mauritian Criminal Code classifying sodomy as an “indecent act” punishable by imprisonment.

Among the cases that have highlighted the fatuity of the country’s legal system is that of Sandrine Carrère, a French tourist who has filed a civil suit against the Mauritian government for “arbitrary arrest and detention.”

In 2002, Carrère was stopped by police upon arriving in the capital of Port Louis. She contests that she was stopped based solely on the appearance of her Rastafarian boyfriend, which the arresting officer later confirmed. Carrère was subjected to a search, wherein police found on her person several packets of cigarettes and two tablets of Di-Antalvic, an anti-inflammatory analgesic drug for which she had a prescription. On the basis of this “contraband”, Carrère was forced to strip naked and undergo an invasive full body search, carried out by officers “using filthy language.”

Though the search proved fruitless, Carrère was placed under “provisional arrest,” a unique practice sanctioned by the country’s penal code that allows anyone suspected of a crime to be detained—sometimes for up to two years—before ever being charged. After being interrogated twice and having her medication and passport seized, Carrère was eventually summoned to court, where she was absolved, finally being allowed to leave the country nearly two months later.

The case brought attention to the practice of provisionally charging suspects, which drew condemnation from the UK Mission to the UN during Mauritius’ Universal Periodic Review in 2013 and has been called a “weapon of repression.” Indeed, the maxim of “innocent until proven guilty” seems not to apply in Mauritius, where such a draconian law allows defendants to languish in the country’s notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary prisons before even being formally charged.

Such is the case of South African businessman, Peter Wayne Roberts, who was “provisionally charged” in the December 2014 death of his girlfriend, Lee-Ann Palmarozza, during a vacation at the Anahita resort on Mauritius’ eastern shore. Roberts maintains his innocence, reporting that he noticed Palmarozza’s absence from the couple’s villa after taking a shower on the night of December 28. Upon notifying resort officials, he and several security guards began searching for Palmarozza, eventually finding her body floating face down in the resort’s pool.

In early January 2015, local police began an ongoing investigation and notwithstanding that forensic reports were made available to them during January, they failed to provide the defence with copies thereof. The defence counsel was forced to approach the Supreme Court of Mauritius for an order that samples obtained from the deceased at autopsy were provided to the defence team for independent analysis in South Africa. A court order was granted on 3 June 2015 but to date the Mauritian prosecution remains in contempt of the order. The defendant has now been forced to bring a further application to hold the State in contempt which application is set to be heard on 24 September 2015. This is a clear and flagrant disregard for an order granted by the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

Although a lack of evidence meant that the defendant was yet to be formally charged, he was forced to remain in detention in Mauritius since January and has been subjected to intimidation and harassment by the police. He has subsequently and on 10 September 2015 been charged on a reduced count of manslaughter. The defence counsel, in the bail application, presented possible scenarios favourable to the defendant, which went unchallenged. The case has “cast a spotlight on the country’s bizarre legal system,” according to The Times of South Africa.

Roberts’ case, like that of Carrère, highlights the substantial faults in Mauritian law and should generate trepidation to tourists and business investor alike in South Africa, the United Kingdom and indeed the United States and perhaps the onus falls to those governments to issue broader Travel Advisory warnings to provide information and protect their citizenries from making an ill-informed decision that would unjustifiably result in immediate yet arbitrary imprisonment

By ignoring persistent recommendations from the UK to scrap the practice of provisional arrest, by ensuring that security forces may continue to arbitrarily detain citizens with impunity, Mauritius has shown an utter disregard for established principles of due process.

Not to be beguiled by images of palm trees and coconut water, travelers should indeed be wary of visiting Africa’s “hidden gem” so long as its commitment to tourism surpasses its commitment to human rights.


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Forms of Punishment

Slaves who did not please their masters were punished in different ways such as:

  • Whipping
  • Body mutilations eg having their ears cut off if they tried to escape
  • Branding eg having their shoulder marked with a hot iron in the form of a Fleur de Lys
  • Death

Although they knew they would have to face harsh consequences if they were captured, many slaves still tried to run away and were known as maroon slaves. These maroons had to be constantly on the move to avoid capture and faced difficult conditions such as hunger, lack of shelter and lived in fear.


HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERING REPORT OF MAURITIUS

The Government of Mauritius was committed to the principles of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, and it intended to amend its Constitution to guarantee greater freedom and fairness in elections, that country's Attorney General and Minister of Justice told the Human Rights Committee this morning.

Addressing the Committee as it began its consideration of the third periodic report of Mauritius on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Abdool Razack Mohamed Ameen Peeroo said Mauritius was committed to a policy of liberalization of broadcasting, to promote the pluralistic expression of views. An equal opportunities commission was also being created to eradicate discriminatory practices in employment.

B.D. Seetulsing, also of the Ministry of Justice, said general elections were held in his country in December 1995, with an 85 per cent voter turnout. Section 16 of the Constitution was amended to make unconstitutional any law involving discrimination on the grounds of sex. In addition, the death penalty had been abolished in Mauritius, even for offences such as treason and drug trafficking.

On the question of minorities, he said there was no indigenous population in Mauritius. "We are all minorities" and the same rights were extended to all, without any discrimination. For example, schools could be established for all religions, and all groups were given subsidies to promote their own religions.

Questions were raised by Committee experts from Egypt, Cyprus, France, Australia, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Japan, India, United States, United Kingdom and Chile. Following their statements, the delegation also spoke.

The Human Rights Committee will meet again at 3 p.m today to resume its consideration of the periodic report of Mauritius.

The Human Rights Committee met this morning to begin consideration of the third periodic report of Mauritius (document CCPR/C/64/Add.12) on measures that country has taken to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Under article 40 of the Covenant, every State party has undertaken to submit reports to the Committee on the implementation of the Covenant. The report should take into account questions raised in the Committee on information supplied in the previous report, as well as the Committee's general comments. The report should also inform on changes made or proposed in laws and practices relevant to the Covenant, and progress made since the Committee last considered the State party's implementation of the Covenant.

According to the report, Mauritius has established a sound reputation for its democratic tradition -- except for the period from 1969 to 1971, during which a state of emergency was imposed, resulting in postponement of general election and the abolition of local elections. However, a 1982 amendment to the Constitution provides that no bill to alter the life of Parliament should be passed unless approved by three fourths of the electorate and supported by all members of the National Assembly. Also, local elections have been re-established.

Noting that Mauritius is bilingual, the report says that extracts from the English and French texts of the Covenant are given wide publicity in the press. Students are being made aware of human rights through a newly introduced course on "human values". Citizens alleging violation of rights or freedom under the Covenant have free access to the Supreme Court.

Addressing Mauritius' compliance with article 3 of the Covenant, which concerns the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights, the report states that in the early 1980s the Civil Code was amended to remove any discrimination against married women. The only discrimination that still exists on that right is in laws regulating citizenship. However, official announcements have been made about amendments to them that will remove any discrimination against women.

The report notes that, under a section of the Criminal Code, it is a sufficient defence for a man who commits manslaughter on his spouse, as well as on the accomplice, at the very moment he finds them in the act of adultery. That may constitute one of the last vestiges of sexual discrimination in Mauritius, as it would appear that such a crime on the part of the female spouse would not be excusable, it adds.

The death penalty has not been abolished in Mauritius, the report states. However, the Prime Minister made an official statement in February

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1995 to the effect that the application of the death penalty would be, henceforth, suspended. There has been no execution since 1987. The Supreme Court, on at least two occasions, has reiterated the view that the mandatory death penalty for the offence of drug trafficking does not offend the Constitution, and that it is for Parliament to debate the pros and cons of a death sentence.

The report adds that 10 persons, all foreign couriers, have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking during the period from 1988 to 1993. Two of them are women. Out of the 10 death sentences, two have been commuted to a term of imprisonment -- and ended in both being released in 1993 -- and four cases are pending appeal. No person has been sentenced to death for murder since 1987. One person was convicted of murder in 1986 and is still on death row. His case is now being considered by the Commission on the Prerogative of Mercy.

Among several provisions relating to article 10, which states that persons deprived of their liberty should be treated with respect for the dignity of the human person, the report states that, by a 1989 regulation, young persons between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one are to be kept separately from adult detainees.

Freedom of expression is protected under the Constitution, says the report. At present, the only radio and television station in the country is controlled by the State. However, in view of the Government's latest expressed policy regarding the liberalization of the air waves, it is anticipated that independent radio and television stations will soon be allowed to broadcast nationally. The authorities have already given the green light to the introduction of satellite dishes (parabolic antenna) in the country through a licensing system.

According to the report, there was some reluctance at first on allowing satellite dishes to be freely imported. The opponents to satellite dishes invoke the alienation process when children watch video clips the whole day or adults become addicted to American serials. Some claim that with the globalization of the waves, the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia will lose their cultural identity. Those who can afford it are receiving Cable News Network (CNN), some French and Russian programmes. The costs of receiving them may go down fairly soon, it adds.

On other matters related to freedom of expression, the report refers to the offence of "publishing false news". It deals with the diffusion or publication of news which is false, and aimed at disturbing public order or peace.

Also, following representations from cultural and religious organizations, the book The Rape of Sita was withdrawn from local bookstalls

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in 1994. The title of the book and the names of the protagonists in the book bore a close resemblance to the names of major figures in a Hindu scripture, the Ramayana. There have been strong protests from the writer and some sections of the population. It is also noted that the circulation of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses is prohibited in Mauritius so as not to offend Muslims.

Enacted in 1994, a Child Protection Act defines a child as "any unmarried person under 18", the report continues. The following are considered offences under the Act: ill-treating or otherwise exposing a child to harm neglecting or abandoning a child child sexual abuse and causing, inciting or allowing a child to engage in prostitution child trafficking and child begging. The 1990 amendment to the Criminal Code raised the age of consent from twelve to sixteen it is now an offence to have sexual intercourse with a female who is under sixteen, even with her consent.

A National Children's Council was established in 1990 under the Ministry for Women's Rights with the aim of promoting the welfare of children generally, the report states. The Committee administering the Council has the power to summon anybody to give evidence relating to children who appear to be in need of assistance on account of any mental or physical danger to which they appear to be exposed. There is a hot line available for reporting child abuse. In 1992, 922 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported about 30 per cent of the cases were found to be genuine.

The report concludes with a reference to article 27 of the Covenant, which reads as follows: "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language."

It states that article 27 is of particular importance to Mauritius. Communities of Asian, European and African origin live peacefully there as the rights enshrined in the Constitution and restated in the Covenant are respected. Mauritius is a secular State, and people are encouraged to practise their ancestral cultures.

ABDOOL RAZACK MOHAMED AMEEN PEEROO, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Industrial Relations of Mauritius, began by apologizing for the delay in presenting the third periodic of Mauritius, which was due in 1988. Since his appointment this year as Attorney-General, he had instituted a Human Rights Unit which would service the presentation of reports for all human rights covenants and conventions to which the country was a party. Since last

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year, Mauritius was up to date with the presentation of most reports. It would submit its fourth periodic report to the Committee by December 1997.

Mauritius was very concerned about violations of human rights in Myanmar, he said. Recently, a trade delegation had been instructed not to proceed to Myanmar to purchase rice even though that commercial deal could have been advantageous to Mauritius' economic interests. As a member of the Commonwealth, Mauritius was doing its best for the promotion and respect of human rights, democracy and good governance as enshrined in the Commonwealth Harare Declaration of 1991. It supported the principles and objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement and of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) towards the promotion of democratic rights.

At the regional level, he said Mauritius was participating in efforts of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee to promote the setting up of an international criminal court. It was also contemplating the possibility of hosting a future session of the African Commission on People's and Human Rights in October where it would present an initial report.

Mauritius was committed to the principles of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, he said. A presidential commission would be appointed to review its judicial system as a whole to reduce delays and costs in the administration of justice and to make it possible for the common citizen to have ready and easy access to justice. The legal aid system would be modernized and simplified so that all people, particularly those from the lower income brackets, might get quick legal redress whenever they needed it.

In line with article 1 of the Covenant, the new Government had the intention of amending the Constitution and other legislation to guarantee greater freedom and fairness in elections, he said. The Government would implement measures to improve voting transparency while maintaining the secrecy of the ballot. International observers were most welcome to monitor future elections.

He stressed his country's commitment to a policy of liberalization of broadcasting which would strengthen the democratic framework and allow pluralistic expression of views. An independent broadcasting authority would be created: among other measures, it would make adequate provisions to prevent any unhealthy concentration of control or ownership of the media.

He also said the Government would introduce legislation to render the conditions of work more humane and encourage dialogue for the promotion of healthy industrial environment. The existing Industrial Relations Act needed to be reviewed, and the Trade Unions and Labour Relations Bill had been severely criticized by trade unions. The Government planned to review the whole situation with all social partners to reach consensus on the issue.

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Further, the Government had proposed to pass legislation to implement a policy, subject to appropriate emphasis, of equal opportunities in employment and education, he said, adding that it would create an equal opportunities commission to eradicate discriminatory practices in employment. To prevent abuses against the citizens by certain unscrupulous police officers, a police complaints board operating independently of the police force would be created. Mauritius had decided to give wide publicity to the rights guaranteed under the Covenant, he concluded.

D.B. SEETULSING, of the Ministry of Justice of Mauritius, said general elections were held in his country in December 1995, with an 85 per cent turn- out among those entitled to vote. Mauritius' report stated that the country was bilingual that was not entirely correct. Although several languages were used in Mauritius, the Constitution did not specify a national language. In courts, the parties could participate in any language. However, the Privy Council sat in London, and proceedings going to that body must be translated into English.

He said a new income tax act was enacted last year, which would come into force this year. It gave equal rights to men and women in the preparation of their tax returns. Men and women would be allowed to make separate returns and to claim deductions. Section 16 of the Constitution was amended to make unconstitutional any law involving discrimination on the grounds of sex. That applied also to citizenship laws.

The death penalty had been abolished in Mauritius, even for offences such as treason and drug trafficking, he continued. The case of a pregnant Kenyan woman who imported drugs into Mauritius was cited in the report. The baby was born in prison and had to stay with her there. Her sister had expressed a wish to adopt the child, and procedures had been put in motion. The authorities supported that action.

The Dangerous Drugs Act, which had not yet come into force, required that drug couriers should submit to a medical examination to determine whether they had drugs concealed in different parts of their bodies, he said. The new Government would take a position regarding the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill, which had been severely criticized.

Turning to questions previously submitted by the Committee concerning legal framework, discrimination and minority rights, Mr. Seetulsing said additional information had been requested regarding the case of Union of Campement Site Owners and Ors vs. Government of Mauritius. That case was more a question of taxes than of discrimination. A "campement" was a bungalow on the beach. In such a small country, to have land on the beach was an exclusive privilege. The land in question was State land, a large part of which was leased out to certain individuals "at ridiculously low prices".

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That was because the leases, drawn up years back, provided for renewal at the option of the lessee. Renewal was,therefore, generally, automatic.

In the case in question, guidance had been sought from the Committee, he said. The Court had then resorted to the provisions regarding equality and non-discrimination in the Constitution. The tax law in question was found not to be discriminatory. A "campement" was very often a second residence.

Addressing the question of procedures used to implement the Committee's views, he cited a case in which the immigration law of Mauritius was amended in line with such an expression of views.

On concrete steps taken to disseminate information on the Covenant in the languages of Mauritius, he said there was freedom of the press in Mauritius. The very few cases of police brutality received a lot of publicity the police were taken to task,and some officers were being prosecuted. Information on human rights was disseminated on radio, television and through the organization of forums.

He said that Rosalyn Higgins, former Committee expert from the United Kingdom and now member of the International Court of Justice, had delivered lectures in Mauritius on human rights issues. The President of South Africa's Constitutional Court had also come to speak on human rights issues. On whether the public had been informed of the Human Rights Committee's consideration of Mauritius' report, he said it had. On his return to Mauritius, the Minister would address the press on the Committee's current deliberations.

Regarding the request for current data on women in Mauritius, he drew attention to statistical data which had been distributed. There were now two women serving as Cabinet Ministers. Of 66 members of the National Assembly, six were women -- up from two in 1991. Women also participated at the level of local government. There were currently five mayors in Mauritius, one of whom was a woman.

There were more women serving as teachers and nurses than in other capacities, he said. However, there were also women entrepreneurs. Girls often performed much better than boys at school, tending to devote more time and effort to their studies. Out of nine judges, two were women. Some 50 per cent of magistrates were now women. Many Mauritian women were well-known writers, poets and painters that was a long-standing tradition. Women were also very active at community centres in rural areas.

Amendments to the Citizenship Laws came into effect in October 1995, he said. The Government intended to reactivate the National Children's Council. A reporting system had been set up whereby children who were victims of violence might phone complaints to an established number. A Child Protection

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Act was passed in 1994, which allowed for mistreated children to be removed from their families. However, financing was needed to provide places for those children.

He said there was no indigenous population in Mauritius. "We are all minorities." The entire population had emigrated to Mauritius, and the rights of all were protected. The two "smaller" minorities -- the descendants of the French and of the Chinese -- were the wealthiest segments of the population.

The Constitution and laws extended the same rights to all, without any discrimination, he said. For example, schools could be established for all religions, and all groups were given subsidies to promote their own religions. Very often, that money was used to pay the priests.

Questions by Committee Members

OMRAN EL-SHAFEI, expert from Egypt, welcomed the delegation. He noted that the Committee was fortunate to have among its members Rajsoomer Lallah, who was an expert from Mauritius. The report, although short, was useful. It showed areas where new developments had taken place and areas where the rights of the Covenant had been observed. The harmony among different races and cultures in Mauritius demonstrated that human rights were being respected in that country.

Referring to a period during which the state of emergency had been imposed, he asked about derogations of rights as provided in article 4 of the Covenant. He sought more information on the need to resort to the Supreme Court to decide on the election of a member of the House of Representatives. He also sought further information on a case where personal law had been involved.

ANDREAS V. MAVROMMATIS, expert from Cyprus, said the report, including the amendment to it, and the presentation had covered everything required for the Committee's consideration. There had been amendments to the Constitution, including gender issues. He asked why other cases of discrimination, such as on the basis of language and religion, had not been included in those amendments, adding that those issues should be taken into account if the Constitution was reviewed again. A paragraph in the report gave the impression that Mauritius had other languages other than English and French more information should be provided on the matter.

Concerning article 27 of the Covenant, on the rights of minorities, he said that should not lead to reverse discrimination. The provisions for non- discrimination should be borne in mind and not lead to the creation of personal laws.

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CHRISTINE CHANET, expert from France, said the lateness of the report was offset by its quality the report did not limit itself to quoting legislation, but gave complete judiciary information. The abolition of the death penalty was a praiseworthy accomplishment. Would Mauritius now be adhering to the second Optional Protocol? she asked.

She asked for additional information on the role of the press and on efforts to better disseminate information on the Covenant in Mauritius. Why, when article 16 of the Constitution was modified to include the word "sex", were exclusions noted in such areas as adoption, marriage and "personal law". It was a matter of concern that children could be kept in a prison environment with their mothers at a very young age.

ELIZABETH EVATT, expert from Australia, said Mauritius respected the rule of law and the rights of citizens. She commended the abolition of the death penalty and asked whether Mauritius would ratify the second Optional Protocol. The modifications to article 16 of the Constitution were also welcome. However, the lateness of the report was a matter of concern.

On sex discrimination, she had questions regarding section 16 of the Constitution. Its wording could be seen to preclude affirmative action. Had there been any interpretations of that part of section 16? A wide exemption was provided regarding such areas as "personal laws", divorce and devolution of property.

She asked for more information about those "personal laws" and their status in Mauritius, as well as the status of polygamous marriage in Mauritian law. Mauritius had held reservations regarding equality between women and men in marriage. Would those reservations be removed? To remove discrimination, genuine anti-discrimination laws should be considered.

Did the law already guarantee equal pay in both public and private employment? she asked. Aliens did not benefit from section 16 of the Constitution. What was the underlying extent of discrimination against aliens with respect to the enjoyment of Covenant rights? How was the election to reserved seats applied in practice.

DAVID KRETZMER, expert from Israel, asked about the amendment to the Constitution prohibiting discrimination against women. At the conclusion of consideration of the second periodic report of Mauritius, the delegation had stated that problems continued to exist owing to traditional practices. What was the relationship between the "personal law" of various communities and the civil law, with respect to the relations between men and women?

TAMAS BAN, expert from Hungary, noted the lateness of the report's submission and sought further explanation for the delay. However, additional information provided had been helpful, including information on the fact that

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the death penalty had been abolished. The report stated that, under a section of the Criminal Code, it was a sufficient defence for a man who committed manslaughter on his spouse, as well as on the accomplice, at the very moment he found them in the act of adultery. Had the amendment on gender discrimination legislation set aside such provision? he asked. He also noted references in the report to the word "castes", and sought information on the meaning in the report of that word.

He had problems on how to assess the real status of the Covenant in Mauritius' legal system as there were several contradictory statements in the report in that regard. He also sought information on a case referred to in the report, on which the Supreme Court had observed that it was not its role to pronounce on the consistency of the Constitution and the Covenant. He asked why the authorities did not consider the implementation of the Covenant into the legal order of the country. Was there any intention to reconsider the status of the Covenant within domestic law? he asked.

He recalled that the Attorney-General, in introducing the report this morning, had said there was dissatisfaction with election laws, and asked the delegation to explain the main problems with the present electoral legislation.

ECKART KLEIN, expert from Germany, said his questions referred to issues related to equality of sexes and non-discrimination. Amendments to the Constitution had made considerable progress in that respect, and that was commendable. The report referred to a case stating that differentiation had been made not because a Mauritian woman enjoyed fewer rights under the law, but because her husband was a foreign national. He said that could be a case of discrimination against an alien woman. Apparently, there was a problem of discrimination against foreign husbands or foreign wives. He sought further information on the matter in view of the gender amendment to the Constitution. Also, he expressed concern over the consistency of that decision with the Covenant.

NISUKE ANDO, expert from Japan, said reference in the report to the Committee deciding on a discrepancy issue was not correct, as the Committee's comments were not legally binding it was for the domestic law to decide. Thus, some consideration should be given to the place of the Covenant in Mauritius domestic law. Turning to sex discrimination, he sought information on concrete measures being adopted on issues concerning the family, such as inheritance and spouses rights. He sought further information on the legal concept of minority.

PRAFULLACHANDRA NATWARLAL BHAGWATI, expert from India, said Mauritius had much in common with his own country. It was heartening to see how it was addressing its problems, maintaining goodwill between its various communities.

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Having been a superior court judge, he was proud of the contribution by the judiciary in Mauritius to human rights jurisprudence there.

Did the protection against discrimination apply equally to public sector corporations? he asked. Currently, foreign husbands and wives of Mauritian citizens require a work permit. Would it not be preferable to lift the requirement with respect to both spouses? Non-citizens were excluded from the anti-discrimination provisions of the Constitution. Did that not run counter to the Covenant?

What was the current position regarding extradition? he asked. If extradition to another country would deprive a person of benefits that would be enjoyed under Mauritian law, would the extradition be approved? He congratulated the Government on abolishing the death penalty, instead of leaving the matter to the judiciary, as had been done in South Africa.

Provision was made for detention of a person for 36 hours, he said. Was that a violation of article 9 of the Covenant, which requires that anyone arrested on a criminal charge must be brought promptly before a judge? Did Mauritius have an act prohibiting discrimination in remuneration and employment? Apparently, Mauritius had not ratified the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Did section 16 of the Constitution exclude the possibility of affirmative action? he asked. Before submitting the report to the Committee, had any steps been taken to disseminate it among the public or human rights activists? Was there any direct access by a citizen to the Supreme Court if his fundamental rights were breached, or must he first go through the entire gamut of the courts?

THOMAS BUERGENTHAL, expert from the United States, said there was no specific reference to article 25 of the Covenant in Mauritius' report which concerns the right to participate in public affairs and elections. It had been stated that there were people on various islands who had no vote or representation in Parliament. Could the delegation address that question?

Lord JOHN MARK ALEXANDER COLVILLE, expert from the United Kingdom, said that, if a contravention of the Covenant was pointed out, it was necessary to bring domestic law into conformity with it. The report stated that the Covenant had "a persuasive force" in Mauritian law. Could an illustration of that be provided?

It appeared that, in Mauritius, a child was considered to be anyone under the age of eighteen years, he said. Children could be adversely affected by violence against them or from conflict between their parents or a parent's partner. How was the voice of the child made known in legal proceedings in such situations?

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CECILIA MEDINA QUIROGA, expert from Chile, joined concerns expressed regarding discrimination and sought further information on the matter. Referring to a division between children categorized under legitimate and adultery children, she asked whether such categorization was applied in determining their rights.

Mr. SEETULSING, of the Ministry of Justice of Mauritius, said that regarding states of emergency, there could be no derogation of the articles of the Covenant under such state. Decisions on the validity of elections, qualifications of candidates, and also whether the counting had been done properly were left to the Court. That had worked well up to now.

Regarding Muslim personal law, he said information on the case he had mentioned had been annexed to the third periodic report interested experts could consult it. On questions concerning the gender amendment to the Constitution, and whether it still allowed a personal law to be introduced without making it unconstitutional, he said the Mauritian personal law was based on the French civil system. There was a mix of the French and British origins in Mauritius' system of laws. Measures introduced in the Civil Code in 1981 had been introduced in France in the 1960s.

The Constitution provided protection to freedom of conscience, he said. There was no discrimination based on language or religion. As for why Creole and other vernacular languages understood by most of the population had not been introduced in schools, he said they were not recognized as languages that could be used in schools for examinations, although there was no prohibition for teachers to use Creole or other languages.

Regarding citizenship and investment, he said that was not a question of discrimination, but of economic realities. It was a tradition in developing countries to attract those who could invest. Mauritius had a policy of attracting investors, as it happened in several other countries, developed and developing ones.


Obligations, statements and reports in the context of UN Climate Negotiations

… has ratified the Paris Agreement which recognizes the need for parties to promote and respect human rights when taking climate action

… emphasized the following principle(s) in its Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement: public participation in the implementation of the NDC, gender equality or the role of women,

… mentioned human rights in written submission to the UNFCCC in relation to the following issues: the need for Clean Development Mechanism projects to respect human rights (2013) the need for capacity building to support countries in implementing human rights-based actions (2016),

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