U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mauritius
Mauritius (Tier 2)
Mauritius is a source country for female children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. This commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) largely consists of school girls engaging in the practice, often with the encouragement and support of 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 is actively working to curb the problem. To further its efforts, the government should complete the prosecution of suspected traffickers apprehended in 2006 and expand the provision of anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials force-wide.
The government vigorously investigated cases of human trafficking throughout the year. Mauritius prohibits all forms of trafficking found in the country 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 for other grave crimes. The government does not have laws prohibiting the trafficking of adults, though existing statutes covering crimes such as forced labor could be used to prosecute cases. To rectify this situation, the Attorney General's Office has announced plans to draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute. During the reporting period, police arrested three pimps and six clients caught exploiting children in prostitution. This included the identification and dismantling of a network operating near the capital; three victims were identified and assisted as a result. Prosecution of these alleged traffickers has not yet commenced. Police also began investigation of a high profile case involving a woman suspected of pimping her granddaughter to neighborhood men. Continued raids in tourist areas where child sex tourism is rumored to be prevalent did not uncover any children in prostitution. In November, police trainers presented a one-week anti-trafficking training program to 32 officers at the national police training school. Forty-one Minor's Brigade officers and recruits received anti-trafficking training in May, and 28 officers in the Police Family Protection Unit were trained in August. Although the government allocated funds to increase the capacity of the Minor's Brigade in 2005, the recruited officers and vehicles have not come into service, limiting the unit's operations to six officers and one vehicle.
Despite an increase in both anti-trafficking awareness and law enforcement efforts over the reporting period, both social service providers and law enforcement officials continued to experience difficulty locating and assisting victims. The government provided funding to NGOs offering protection to victims of trafficking. 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 13 girls engaged in prostitution during the year. Mauritius has a formal protocol on the provision of assistance to victims of sexual abuse; CSEC victims are accompanied to the hospital by a child welfare officer and police work in conjunction with this officer to obtain a statement. However, the government occasionally punishes victims of trafficking for offenses committed as a result of their trafficking situation; during the period, one child engaged in prostitution was arrested and placed in a juvenile detention center.
The government made notable efforts to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children 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 commercial sexual exploitation. The Police Family Protection Unit and the Minor's Brigade also conducted a widespread child abuse awareness campaign at 34 schools and community centers that contained a segment on the dangers and consequences of CSEC. Minister-level officials and the Ombudsperson for Children publicly supported NGO programs that provided additional education to schoolchildren on CSEC. Throughout the year, the media publicized the arrest of suspected pimps.