U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mauritius
Mauritius (Tier 2 Watch List)
Mauritius is a source and destination country for children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to a 2002 report commissioned by the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, and Family Welfare and carried out by the University of Mauritius with UNICEF support, children exploited in prostitution are found in the capital of Port Louis, the town of Grand Bay, and other beach resort areas. Children most likely to be exploited in prostitution – a form of trafficking – are young girls from impoverished families whose parents are engaged in prostitution and/or drug use.
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. Mauritius has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List because of a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons over the last year. Increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and a broader provision of victim services would improve Mauritius's anti-trafficking efforts.
The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were modest in 2004. Mauritius does not have a comprehensive law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. Existing laws prohibit brothel keeping and allowing a child into a brothel; prostituting a child in Mauritius or abroad; procuring or exploiting prostitutes; forced labor; abduction; and slavery. The government did not report any trafficking cases prosecuted or convicted during the year. In May 2004, the police force established a ten-officer child protection brigade to monitor all forms of exploitation and abuse against children. The brigade, through its field intelligence officers, reportedly investigated several cases of children in prostitution, but claimed there was insufficient evidence to take any further action beyond notifying the relevant parents. The brigade received training on child commercial sexual exploitation from the Ministry of Women's Rights. The Tourism Police patrolled tourist areas, including hotels, beaches, and shopping areas; it is unknown whether this force conducted any trafficking-related interventions.
The government provided limited assistance to trafficking victims during the period. A Child Development Unit (CDU), within the Ministry of Women's Rights, worked with the police to give assistance to children at risk of abuse. The CDU operated a telephone hotline to offer 24-hour assistance to children in distress, but no calls were reported from children in prostitution. The Ministry also funded an adjacent NGO-operated "Drop-In Center" where it referred child victims of sexual exploitation to receive psychological and medical treatment, undergo rehabilitation, and reconnect with the educational system; parents received counseling as well. Civil servants – two welfare officers and two social workers – were on the Center's staff. In 2004, six of the center's 76 cases were known to be children engaged in prostitution. In addition, the Ombudsman for Children received one case of a child engaged in prostitution. The Ministry of Women's Rights' child welfare officers participated in the monthly meetings of the country's six community Child Watch Networks, an avenue for volunteers to report cases of child sexual exploitation, including children in prostitution, to the Ministry.
Mauritian anti-trafficking efforts were strongest in the area of prevention. The country lacks a comprehensive public awareness campaign to fight trafficking in persons, though it has a two-year-old national plan of action to address commercial sexual exploitation of children through various approaches, including prevention. As part of that plan's implementation, government officials occasionally spoke out publicly on the issue. The Ministry also held a workshop in 2004 to facilitate information sharing among and conduct a needs assessment of children at high risk for sexual exploitation. A meeting of senior-level officials was held in November 2004 to specifically discuss coordinated efforts against commercial sexual exploitation of children. In partnership with UNICEF, the University of Mauritius began building a regional center to facilitate the prevention of child sexual exploitation in island nations. The university is supporting the project through funding, technical expertise, and the use of its facilities.