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2024 Trafficking in Persons Report for Mauritius

L’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Maurice a présenté le 25 juin 2024 ce rapport qui concerne le pays sur le sujet du traffic humain.



The Government of Mauritius does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period; therefore Mauritius was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included investigating more trafficking cases, including an allegedly complicit official; training law enforcement officials and members of the judiciary on trafficking cases; identifying significantly more trafficking victims, including identifying forced labor victims for the first time in four years; and approving funds for NAP implementation. The government amended the anti-trafficking law to strengthen the government’s institutional framework to combat trafficking, including by creating a specialized law enforcement unit in the police force and including non-punishment provisions for trafficking victims who commit crimes as a result of being trafficked. The government also adopted legislation eliminating worker-paid recruitment fees. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in other key areas. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) did not prosecute any suspected traffickers under the anti-trafficking law, nor did courts convict any traffickers, for the second consecutive year. Protection services available for adult trafficking victims remained limited. Police regularly investigated potential trafficking cases as other crimes with lower burdens of proof, and prosecutors routinely pursued offenses with lesser penalties in cases initially investigated as trafficking; this approach weakened deterrence and did not adequately address the nature of the crime.


Using the established victim identification and referral SOPs, systematically and proactively

identify trafficking victims, including by screening for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations – including individuals involved in commercial sex or drug-related crimes, migrant workers, and women and children from underprivileged communities – and refer all trafficking victims to appropriate services. Expand the availability of shelters and services to all trafficking victims and allocate adequate resources and staffing for these services.* Continue increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes under the anti- trafficking law and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms. Continue providing specific anti-trafficking training – including on strong evidence gathering, victim-centered investigations, and victim identification SOPs – to the Mauritius Police Force (MPF) investigators, labor inspectors, prosecutors, and magistrates. * Ensure a victim-centered approach to the provision of assistance for all trafficking victims identified regardless of immigration status or willingness to participate in criminal proceedings. Implement a victim witness program to increase protection for victims participating in criminal proceedings and prevent re-traumatization, including receiving victims’ consent to participate in law enforcement procedures. Implement and consistently enforce strong regulations and oversight of labor recruitment companies and hold fraudulent labor recruiters criminally accountable. Continue strengthening the partnership between police and prosecutors to more efficiently and effectively investigate and prosecute trafficking cases under the anti-trafficking law. Allocate funding for anti-trafficking activities, including implementation of the 2022-2026 NAP. Improve data collection efforts to accurately track and report the government’s anti-trafficking statistics and improve information sharing among government agencies.


The government made mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, as amended, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking of adults and children and prescribed penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalti were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as kidnapping. The government enacted amendme to the anti-trafficking law, which included amending the definition of trafficking to explicitly reference debt bondage as a form of exploitation. The Children’s Act of 2020 also criminalized child sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

The government investigated 13 trafficking cases-11 for sex trafficking (nine adults and two children) and two for forced labor compared with six investigations in the previous reporting period, the two forced labor investigations were the first forced labor investigations in three years. The government continued 10 investigations from previous reporting periods. The DPP, an independent governmental body, did not report any new prosecutions under the anti- trafficking law for the second consecutive year. The government reported one ongoing forced labor prosecution from 2020. Courts did not convict any suspected traffickers for the second consecutive year. Observers reported officials often investigated and prosecuted potential trafficking cases under lesser offenses such as assault or brothel keeping, which had lower burdens of proof and lower penalties. Courts sometimes provided lenient sentences to first- time offenders of many crimes, including trafficking; this approach weakened deterrence and did not adequately address the nature of the crime. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action. The government investigated one government official allegedly involved in a sex trafficking case; the investigation remains ongoing.

The 2023 anti-trafficking law amendment established the Trafficking in Persons Unit in the Central Criminal Investigation Division of the MPF to oversee human trafficking investigations.

An Inspector of Police led the unit and reported to an Assistant Superintendent of Police. The MPF training schools continued to provide anti-trafficking training to new recruits and mid- level officers. As previously reported, law enforcement officers, particularly those outside Port Louis, continued to lack a complete understanding of human trafficking and proper investigative techniques, often leading to drawn out investigations and unsuccessful prosecutions. The government partnered with international organizations to increase training for officials on victim identification, interviewing techniques, and evidence gathering; members of the judiciary also received training on the anti-trafficking law. Law enforcement and prosecutors reported more regular coordination on trafficking cases, including by meeting to discuss cases, recommend charges, and determine evidence requirements.

Despite these improvements in case consultation, observers reported the DPP often did not pursue trafficking charges in such cases. The judicial process continued to be prohibitively long – frequently many years – which at times dissuaded victims from seeking legal redress. Courts continued to experience a pre-existing backlog of cases.


The government increased victim protection efforts. The government reported identifying 18 trafficking victims (13 in sex trafficking and five in forced labor), compared with four victims identified in the previous reporting period. The five forced labor victims were the first adult labor trafficking victims identified in four years. In addition, the government reported identifying at least seven potential trafficking victims, including five children and two adults. The government had SOPs to identify and refer trafficking victims to protective services, however, implementation of the SOPs was minimal for adult trafficking victims. The government did not report how many victims were referred to services; however, it reported an unspecified number of victims received medical and psychological support. This compared with two victims referred to services the previous year. The government reported it conducted some screening of Malagasy women traveling independently with limited funds for trafficking indicators at the airport and sea ports, however, observers reported officials did not proactively screen other vulnerable populations, including migrant workers, unless individuals self-identified as victims. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare’s (MOGEFW) Child Development Unit (CDU) maintained separate identification and referral procedures for child trafficking victims.

In August 2023, the government, in partnership with an international organization, completed renovations to a shelter dedicated to adult male trafficking victims in Vacoas. However, officials reported the shelter was not yet operational and had yet to assist any victims but was working with international organizations to establish protocols for management of the shelter. Adult female trafficking victims were referred to a partially government-funded, NGO-run shelter for victims of domestic violence, at which NGOs provided medical assistance, vocational training, and psycho-social services. Experts reported these accommodations did not adequately meet the specific needs of trafficking victims. The government continued to operate a shelter for child victims of sexual violence, which could serve child sex trafficking victims. The government decreased funding for protection and assistance services and reported spending 4 million Mauritian rupees ($91,178) in 2023, compared with at least 13.2 million rupees ($300,890) the previous year.

Experts reported the lack of trafficking-specific protection services available for adult trafficking victims-compounded by officials’ lack of victim-centered approaches and inappropriate treatment – put victims at risk for re-traumatization and re-trafficking. Due to minimal training and use of victim identification SOPs and gaps in understanding of human trafficking among law enforcement officers, authorities likely detained, arrested, and deported unidentified trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. In recent years, the government required some adult foreign victims to participate in criminal proceedings by using threats of deportation and arrest. Observers reported government officials required some victims to stay in the country until investigations were complete by denying requests for repatriation, closely monitoring and restricting victims’ freedom of movement, and, in some cases, withholding the victims’ passports.

The anti-trafficking law provided victims limited legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face hardship. The law authorized the Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) to allow a foreign trafficking victim who was required as a witness to remain in the country until the end of any criminal proceedings. The law also separately allowed the MHA to extend the trafficking victim’s permit on humanitarian grounds. The MHA did not report issuing any such permits. Under the 2023 anti-trafficking law amendment, which came into effect in january 2024, the Ministry of Labor, Human Resources, and Training (MLHRDT) could grant migrant worker victims a « special permit » to continue working in Mauritius during ongoing trafficking investigations; the government did not provide « special permits. » The 2023 anti-trafficking amendment also enabled victims participating in criminal justice proceedings to receive financial and legal assistance, and, subject to the Commissioner of Police’s or relevant minister’s approval, victim-witnesses and their families could receive witness protection services. The 2023 anti-trafficking law amendment also included a non-punishment provision, noting the Director of Public Prosecutions had the authority to decline prosecuting victims of trafficking who may have committed unlawful acts as a result of being trafficked. Despite the new amendments to the law, the government continued to lack formal policies and procedures to support trafficking victims’ participation in investigations and prosecutions, and it did not have a victim-witness assistance program. The government reported 18 victims participated in investigations; observers noted some victims refrained from participating because of improper treatment during investigations, distrust in the judicial system, and lengthy investigations and prosecutions. Court procedures allowed victims to provide testimony via video or written statements; however, in practice, prosecutors expected trafficking victims to testify in-person. The anti-trafficking law allowed the courts to order traffickers to pay restitution, up to 500,000 rupees ($11,397), to victims. The law also allowed victims to file civil suits against traffickers for compensation for damages exceeding the amount of restitution awarded during criminal proceedings. However, observers reported victims refrained from filing civil suits because of prohibitively lengthy and costly judicial processes.


The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The 2023 anti-trafficking law amendments formally established the National Steering Committee on Trafficking in Persons (NSCTIP), which continued to lead the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. NSCTIP was chaired by the Secretary for Home Affairs and composed of working-level officials. The Inter- Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in Persons, chaired by the Minister of Labor, Human Resource Development and Training, maintained oversight of NSCTIP. The MOGEFW, including the National Children’s Council and the CDU, led government efforts to combat child trafficking. The Prime Minister’s Office was reportedly the lead office responsible for addressing adult trafficking, however, government agencies remained unclear regarding which entity was responsible for adult trafficking cases. The government had a 2022-2026 NAF to combat trafficking. The government approved funds to finance the 2022-2026 NAP’S implementation but did not report on progress made. The government reported it allocated at least 1 million rupees ($22,795) to prevention efforts. The government held awareness- raising activities in partnership with NGOs and international organizations targeting front-line workers, local communities and businesses, and migrant workers on recognizing trafficking indicators, reporting potential trafficking crimes, and promoting fair and ethical recruitment migrant workers. The MOGEFW continued to operate a 24-hour hotline to report child abuse and GBV, including potential trafficking crimes, and the police operated a 24-hour hotline to report crimes. The government reported identifying five suspected child trafficking cases through the hotline, the same number of cases as in 2022.

The MLHRDT’s Special Migrant Workers Unit maintained responsibility for monitoring and protecting all migrant workers. The MLHRDT was required to approve all employment contracts before they were sent to migrant workers in their home countries, and officials reexamined contracts once workers arrived in country to ensure there were no fraudulent changes; in previous years, some migrant workers entered the country with contracts that were incomplete or had not been translated into languages the workers could read, increasing vulnerabilities to trafficking. The MLHRDT continued to conduct individual sess with foreign workers upon arrival to Mauritius to inform them of their rights, including producing relevant documents in their native language. The MLHRDT maintained a speci team to prevent trafficking among migrant workers, which coordinated with police and protection services, operated a hotline to report complaints, and disseminated awarene raising materials. In May 2023, the government signed an MOU with the Government of to improve the recruitment process for Indian migrant workers to ensure safe working conditions and fair and ethical treatment in Mauritius. The Labor inspectors continued routine inspections of employment sites, particularly in key sectors such as textiles and garment manufacturing, which included interviewing migrant workers and their employers using a pre- set questionnaire that included a screening tool to identify potential trafficking indicators. in February 2024, the government adopted the Private Recruitment Agencies Act that repealed the Recruitment of Workers Act and Regulations, which had allowed recruiting agencies to charge recruitment fees ranging from 100 to 200 rupees ($2 to $5) and a commission of not more than 10 percent on the first month’s earnings of persons placed in employment, the new legislation eliminated all worker-paid recruitment fees and prescribed penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine from 500,000 to one million rupees ($11,397 to $22,795) for violators. The government conducted some activities to raise awareness of child protection and extraterritorial child sexual exploitation and abuse in the tourism industry. The government reported some efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.


As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Mauritius. Traffickers exploit girls from across the country – particularly from low-income communities in child sex trafficking, including through online platforms. Taxi drivers, sometimes involved in commercial sex networks, knowingly transport child sex traffickers to victims; taxi drivers also transport victims to traffickers. Traffickers may exploit children in sex trafficking on Rodrigues Island, an autonomous territory of Mauritius. Members of underserved communities, including individuals in commercial sex, women and children of African descent (Creoles), and LGBTQI+ persons, are vulnerable to sex trafficking, particularly in urban areas such as Port Louis, Rose Hill, and Quatre Bornes. Increasingly, traffickers. including gang members, force Mauritian children and foreign migrants to carry drugs; traffickers commonly exploit victims’ substance use to maintain control and as a means of coercion. Traffickers exploit foreign migrants, particularly Malagasy women, recruited under false pretenses of employment or tourism in sex trafficking and domestic servitude in guesthouses, hotels, and massage parlors. Previous reports indicate traffickers, in partnership with criminal networks in Russia and Kazakhstan, recruit Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian women to move to Mauritius, under the guise of a marriage agency, then subsequently exploit them in sex trafficking.

Approximately 35,820 foreign migrant workers – primarily from Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal – are employed in Mauritius’ garment, textile, manufacturing, and construction industries; traffickers exploit migrants in labor trafficking in these sectors. Employers operating small- and medium-sized businesses employ migrant workers, primarily from Bangladesh, who have been recruited through private recruitment intermediaries, usually former migrant workers now operating as recruiting agents in Mauritius; labor trafficking cases are more common in these enterprises than in larger businesses, which recruit directly without the use of intermediaries. In these cases, employers often confiscate migrant workers’ passports to prevent them from changing jobs, enhancing vulnerability to forced labor. Traffickers may exploit migrant workers aboard foreign-owned fishing vessels in Mauritius’ territorial waters and ports using abuses indicative of labor trafficking, including nonpayment of wages and physical abuse.

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