Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Mauritius
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||16 June 2009|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Mauritius, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a4214a4c.html [accessed 2 August 2015]|
MAURITIUS (Tier 1)
Mauritius is a source for children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Secondary school-age girls and, to a lesser extent, younger girls from all areas of the island, including from Rodrigues Island, are induced into prostitution, often by their peers, family members, or businessmen offering other forms of employment. Taxi drivers are known to provide transportation and introductions for both the girls and the clients. Boys whose mothers engage in prostitution are reportedly forced into prostitution at a young age. Some drug-addicted women are forced to engage in prostitution by their boyfriends, who serve as pimps.
The Government of Mauritius fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Mauritius sustained its strong efforts to identify, address, and prevent incidences of trafficking during the reporting period. Government officials demonstrated an increasing level of awareness of human trafficking and commitment to addressing the problem. Public awareness projects, particularly those convened for school students by police officers and the National Children's Council, were frequently conducted and broad-reaching. Mauritius' parliament passed a comprehensive human trafficking law in April 2009.
Recommendations for Mauritius: Utilize newly passed anti-trafficking legislation to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; designate an official coordinating body or mechanism to facilitate improved anti-trafficking communication and coordination among the relevant ministries, law enforcement entities, working groups, and NGOs; and increase protective services available to victims of child commercial sexual exploitation, particularly in regard to safe shelter and educational opportunities.
The Mauritian government demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, vigorously investigating cases of human trafficking throughout the year. During the year, the State Law Office drafted the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill and the Office of the Attorney General held consultations with relevant ministries and government agencies, including the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, and Family Welfare (MOWCD), and the Mauritius Police Force on the law's implementation. The law, which was introduced in the Cabinet and passed by the parliament in April 2009, prescribes punishment of up to 15 years' imprisonment for convicted offenders, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. The Child Protection Act of 2005 prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes punishment of up to 15 years' imprisonment for convicted offenders. In November 2008, however, the government passed the Judicial Provisions Act which provided for increased penalties for various offenses; the act prescribes punishment for child trafficking offenses of up to 30 years' imprisonment. The government reported eight child sex trafficking convictions during 2008: three under a brothel-keeping statute and five under a "debauching youth" statute. Sentences for these convicted offenders ranged between three months' and three years' imprisonment, with fines up to an equivalent $1,764. In January 2009, police in Curepipe arrested and charged a massage parlor owner for allegedly exploiting three girls in prostitution within the spa. Police completed the investigation resulting from the January 2008 arrest of a man and woman charged with inducing their 12-year-old niece into prostitution and referred the case to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. Ten trafficking cases remain under investigation, including two for brothel-keeping and three for causing a child to be engaged in prostitution. The Mauritius Police Force utilized a database for tracking trafficking-related cases.
The government sustained its protection of child trafficking victims during the reporting period, paying NGO shelters $6 per day for the protection of each child, including victims of trafficking. Government officials regularly referred children to these organizations for shelter and other assistance. The government-funded, NGO-run drop-in center for sexually abused children, which provided counseling to approximately 16 girls engaged in prostitution in 2008, advertised its services through bumper stickers, a toll-free number, and community outreach; its social worker continued to promote the services in schools and local communities. Nonetheless, due the drop-in center's lack of shelter facilities and the often crowded conditions at NGO shelters, comprehensive protective services were not readily available to all victims identified within the country. To remedy this, the MOWCD acquired land and obtained funding to construct a residential center for victims of child commercial sexual exploitation late in the year. The ministry also operated a 24-hour hotline for reporting cases of sexual abuse; three cases of child prostitution were reported to the hotline in 2008. 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. Medical treatment and psychological support were readily available at public clinics and NGO centers in Mauritius. In December 2008, the parliament passed the Child Protection (Amendment) Act, which created a child mentoring scheme to provide support and rehabilitation to children in distress, including children engaged in prostitution. In May 2008, the government launched a capacity-building program for its five District Child Protection Committees, which report cases of vulnerable children in their respective localities, including those involving child prostitution. 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 sex trafficking of children and reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the year. In 2008, the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure, and External Communications published and distributed to hotels and tour operators 3,000 pamphlets regarding the responsibility of the tourism sector to combat child sex trafficking. Law enforcement and child welfare officials conducted surveillance at bus stops, night clubs, gaming houses, and other places frequented by children to identify and interact with students who were at a high risk of sex trafficking. The Police Family Protection Unit and the Minor's Brigade, in conjunction with the MOWCD's Child Development Unit, conducted a widespread child abuse awareness campaign at schools and community centers that included a session on the dangers and consequences of engaging in prostitution; this campaign reached over 12,035 persons in 2008, including 145 parents, 300 primary school teachers, and 35 youth leaders. In addition, the police provided specific training on avoiding child prostitution to over 100 children in Flic en Flac, a tourist destination on the west coast of the island.