Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Mauritius
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Mauritius, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a2b2d.html [accessed 29 July 2014]|
MAURITIUS (Tier 2)
Mauritius is a source for female children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. School girls and young girls from underprivileged areas are induced into prostitution, often by their peers or family members. Taxi drivers are known to provide transportation and introductions to both the girls and the clients.
The Government of Mauritius does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government openly acknowledges that child prostitution occurs within the country and showed greater will to curb the problem over the last year. Along with increased media coverage of the issue, the government showed greater attention to trafficking issues, leading to widespread awareness.
Recommendations for Mauritius: Pass and enact legislation specifically prohibiting the trafficking of adults for purposes of both labor and sexual exploitation; complete the prosecution of suspected traffickers apprehended in 2006 and 2007; and take greater steps to discourage child sex tourism to Mauritius, such as the issuance of warnings to arriving international travelers.
The Mauritian government demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, vigorously investigating cases of human trafficking throughout the year. Mauritius prohibits all forms of child trafficking through its Child Protection Bill of 2005, which prescribes punishment of up to 15 years' imprisonment for convicted offenders. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. The government does not, however, have laws specifically prohibiting trafficking for the purpose of forced labor or debt bondage or any trafficking of adults. In July 2007, the number of police officers working in the Minors' Brigade increased from six to 35 and the number of vehicles from one to five, allowing adequate coverage of all regions of the island. During the reporting period, police discovered eight cases of children engaged in prostitution and arrested 22 adults caught exploiting such children, including three pimps; all cases remain under investigation. For example, in January 2008, police arrested a German citizen with permanent residency status for sexually exploiting a 12-year-old girl with the consent of the girl's aunt and uncle – who were arrested for pimping. In addition, the Minors' Brigade arrested two people for exploiting four children in street vending; the Ministry of Labor is investigating the case. The Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations and Employment conducted inspections to enforce child labor laws; during the reporting period, the Ministry dealt with 10 cases of exploitative child labor that resulted in three prosecutions and two convictions with fines; one case is still outstanding. In 2007, the Mauritius Police Force developed and began utilizing a database for tracking all trafficking-related cases.
The Mauritian government's social service providers and law enforcement officials continued to experience difficulty locating and assisting a significant number of victims during the reporting period. The government provided funding to NGOs offering protection and services to victims of trafficking, and referred victims to these organizations for shelter and other assistance. The government-run drop-in center for children engaged in prostitution actively advertised its counseling services through bumper stickers, a toll-free number, and community outreach; its social worker continued to promote the services in schools and local communities. The center assisted 11 girls in prostitution during the year. But due to the lack of shelter at the drop-in center and often crowded conditions at existing NGO shelters, victims at times were not able to access immediate shelter or other protective services. Mauritius has a formal protocol on the provision of assistance to all victims of sexual abuse; minors victimized by commercial sexual exploitation are accompanied to the hospital by a child welfare officer and police work in conjunction with this officer to obtain a statement. The government encourages victims' assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes. The government ensures that victims are not inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The government made notable efforts to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children and reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the year. Law enforcement officials conducted surveillance at bus stops, night clubs, gaming houses, and other places frequented by children to identify and interact with students who are at a high risk of sex trafficking. The Police Family Protection Unit and the Minor's Brigade also conducted a widespread child abuse awareness campaign at 101 schools and community centers that contained a session on the dangers and consequences of engaging in prostitution; this campaign reached over 15,000 persons in 2007.