Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Mauritius

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Mauritius

2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Moderate Advancement

In 2016, Mauritius made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government hired additional labor inspectors, now meeting the ILO's recommendation for workforce coverage. The Government also established a mechanism to coordinate human anti-trafficking efforts and drafted a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and a National Strategy for Street Working Children. In addition, the Government established an oversight body to monitor the provision of social services in institutional care facilities and shelters, which house orphans and child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. However, children in Mauritius engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. The Government lacks a national policy to address all relevant worst forms of child labor and poor coordination continues to hinder the Government’s efforts to combat child labor. In addition, social programs to combat child labor are insufficient to adequately address the extent of the problem.

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Children in Mauritius engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking.(1-5) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Mauritius. Data on some of these indicators are not available from the sources used in this report.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

Children

Age

Percent

Working (% and population)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Attending School (%)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Combining Work and School (%)

7 to 14

Unavailable

Primary Completion Rate (%)

 

101.1

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2015, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2016.(6)
Data were unavailable from Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis, 2016.(7)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children’s work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children’s Work by Sector and Activity

Sector/Industry

Activity

Agriculture

Producing and harvesting vegetables (1, 4, 5, 8)

Feeding livestock (9)

Fishing, including diving, and casting nets and traps (5, 8, 10)

Industry

Working in factories and masonry (8, 11)

Services

Domestic work (1, 5, 8)

Working in apparel shops and restaurants (8)

Street work, including vending, begging, and carrying goods in public markets (1, 4, 5, 8)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1-5, 12)

Use in illicit activities, including selling drugs (5, 8)

‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.

Some children in Mauritius are lured into commercial sexual exploitation by their peers or family members, or through false offers of other employment.(2, 11) Mauritius has never conducted a national child labor survey, and therefore information on the prevalence of child labor in the country is limited.(5)

Evidence suggests that incidents of physical and psychological abuse, including corporal punishment of students by teachers, prevent some children from attending school, which increases their risk of engaging in the worst forms of child labor. Because of discrimination, children with disabilities face serious barriers in accessing education.(1, 3, 13-16)

Mauritius has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor

Convention

Ratification

ILO C. 138, Minimum Age

ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor

UN CRC

UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict

UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

 

The Government has established laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Mauritius’ legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor.

Table 4. Laws and Regulations on Child Labor

Standard

Meets International Standards: Yes/No

Age

Legislation

Minimum Age for Work

Yes

16

Sections 6 and 12 of the Employment Rights Act (17)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Section 12 of the Employment Rights Act (17)

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

Yes

 

Section 8 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (18)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 6 of the Constitution; Article 2 of the Combating Trafficking in Persons Act (19, 20)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Article 11 of the Combating Trafficking in Persons Act; Article 13A of the Child Protection Act (20, 21)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Article 14 of the Child Protection Act; Article 253 of the Criminal Code (21, 22)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 30.1b-e, 38a, 41.1f, and 41.2 of the Dangerous Drugs Act (23)

Minimum Age for Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

N/A*

 

 

State Voluntary

N/A†

 

 

Non-state Compulsory

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

16

Article 37.2 of the Education Act (24)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 35 of the Education Act (24)

* No conscription (25)
† No standing military (25)

During the reporting period, the Government continued to draft a comprehensive bill to harmonize the existing legal framework related to children’s rights and strengthen legal provisions for child protection.(1, 5, 26, 27)

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5). However, gaps in labor law and criminal law enforcement remain and some enforcement information is not available.

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, Employment, and Training (MOLIRE)

Enforce all labor laws, including those related to child labor.(5, 12)

Office of the Ombudsperson for Children

Investigate any suspected or reported case of child labor or violation of a child’s rights. Propose laws and policies to advance children’s rights.(3, 5, 28, 29)

Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors (Minors’ Brigade)

Investigate crimes of the worst forms of child labor, including child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.(3, 5, 27) Maintain a database of all trafficking incidents involving children and refer all cases of commercial sexual exploitation to the Child Development Unit (CDU).(30)

Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare’s (MOGE) Child Development Unit (CDU)

Enforce legislation related to children and implement policies and social programs related to child development. Provide social services to victims of the worst forms of child labor, including human trafficking.(5, 30-32) Operate a central database for sharing information and taking action to address child labor.(5, 31, 32)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2016, labor law enforcement agencies in Mauritius took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Labor Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Labor Law Enforcement

2015

2016

Labor Inspectorate Funding

$1.1 million (11)

$1.2 million (5)

Number of Labor Inspectors

55 (11)

85 (33)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

No (11)

No (5)

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Number of Labor Inspections

479† (11)

1,673‡ (5)

Number Conducted at Worksite

479† (11)

1,673‡ (5)

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

0

0

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

2 (34)

0 (5)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

0 (11)

N/A (5)

Number of Penalties Imposed that Were Collected

N/A

N/A

Routine Inspections Conducted

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Routine Inspections Targeted

No (11)

Yes (5)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Yes (11)

Yes (5)

† Data are from January 1, 2015, to October 31, 2015.(11)
‡ Data are from January 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016.(34)

Although the Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations, Employment, and Training (MOLIRE) works with the Child Development Unit (CDU) and the Minors’ Brigade to refer victims to social service providers, research indicates that these agencies do not coordinate with the Ministry of Education to ensure that victims have access to education.(9, 11, 35)

 

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2016, criminal law enforcement agencies in Mauritius took actions to combat the worst forms of child labor (Table 7).

Table 7. Criminal Law Enforcement Efforts Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement

2015

2016

Training for Investigators

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown

Yes (5)

Training on New Laws Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Unknown

N/A

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown (9)

Yes (5)

Number of Investigations

Unknown

Unknown (5)

Number of Violations Found

Unknown

Unknown (5)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

Unknown

Unknown (5)

Number of Convictions

Unknown

0 (5)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (27)

Yes (5, 11)

 

During the reporting period, the Minors’ Brigade, in cooperation with the CDU, received 17 complaints, including eight cases of child labor and four cases of commercial sexual exploitation.(5) In 2016, the police investigated at least three cases of child trafficking and referred three other cases of child trafficking that occurred before the reporting period to the Director of Public Prosecutions.(30) However, the total number of investigations, violations, and prosecutions related to the worst forms of child labor is unknown. In addition, research revealed that criminal law enforcement agencies lacked staff, transportation, and other necessities to properly enforce criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor.(12, 36)

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Key Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Child Protection Committee (NCPC)

Coordinate and implement activities on children’s rights, including efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor. Chaired by MOGE and also known as the High Powered and Working Together Committee.(30, 31, 37). In 2016, the NCPC met twice to carry out awareness-raising activities on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the tourism industry.(38)

Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking*

Coordinate human anti-trafficking efforts in Mauritius. Chaired by the Attorney General’s Office and includes representatives from MOLIRE, MOGE, and other ministries.(2, 33, 39)

National Children’s Council (NCC)

Coordinate child protection efforts in Mauritius as an independent, para-governmental entity under the auspices of MOGE.(3, 12) In June 2016, partnered with stakeholders to organize awareness-raising campaigns on children’s rights in honor of International Day of the African Child.(5)

* Mechanism to coordinate efforts to address child labor was created during the reporting period.

In 2016, a lack of coordination between the National Child Protection Committee (NCPC) and the National Children’s Council (NCC) hindered the Government’s efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor.(3, 5)

The Government has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 9).

Table 9. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

Child Safety Online Action Plan

Aims to prevent sexual exploitation of children on the Internet by strengthening the legal framework and developing awareness-raising programs. Implemented by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, in conjunction with MOGE, the Minors’ Brigade and the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children.(3, 40, 41) In February 2016, organized workshops as part of Safer Internet Day.(11)

Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan (2008–2020)

Aims to improve equity of access to primary, secondary, and technical and vocational education, and to provide social services for youth. Overseen by the Ministry of Education.(42, 43) In 2016, developed 9-year schooling strategy to expand education access for children with learning difficulties.(5)

Government Development Program—Achieving Meaningful Change (2015–2019)

Aims to increase access to social protection services for vulnerable populations, including children, and emphasizes a zero tolerance policy for the use of children in drug trafficking.(26, 44, 45).

 

In 2016, the Government drafted a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and a National Strategy for Street Working Children; however, neither was approved by the end of the reporting period.(2, 5, 32, 39) Despite these efforts, research found no evidence of a policy to combat other worst forms of child labor such as commercial sexual exploitation.

In 2016, the Government funded programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 10).

Table 10. Key Social Programs to Address Child Labor‡

Program

Description

Awareness-Raising Programs on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking†

Government program to educate the public on preventing commercial sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking.(2, 37) In 2016, the police educated 13,558 students in primary and secondary schools, as well as individuals in community centers.(5, 30)

Drop-in Centers, Shelters, and Institutional Care†

Government programs that provide rehabilitation services to victims of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Monitored by the CDU.(3, 27) In 2016, created a new Drop-in Center in Grand River Northwest that served 25 child victims, and expanded the La Colombe shelter in order to provide appropriate services to victims.(5, 27, 30, 39)

IOM Country Program

IOM program that builds the capacity of relevant government agencies to protect children from exploitation and human trafficking. In 2016, trained law enforcement officials on counter-trafficking in persons.(32, 46)

Education Assistance Programs†

Government programs that aim to increase access to quality primary education for vulnerable children. These programs include the Eradication of Absolute Poverty Program that provides educational support to 500 households in 229 geographic pockets of poverty and the Education Priority Zones that provide equal opportunities to primary school children throughout the country.(3, 43)

† Program is funded by the Government of Mauritius.
‡ The Government had other social programs that may have included the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms.(3, 27, 37, 43)

In 2016, the Government established an oversight body to address the lack of appropriate standards of care, inadequate service provision, and overcrowding that exists in institutional care facilities and shelters that house orphans, child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and victims of other types of abuses.(5, 11, 29, 35)

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Mauritius (Table 11).

Table 11. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits the recruitment of children under 18 into non-state armed groups.

2016

Enforcement

Strengthen the labor inspectorate by authorizing inspectors to assess penalties.

2015 – 2016

Ensure that children identified during labor inspections receive all necessary social services, including access to education.

2015 – 2016

Publish comprehensive criminal law enforcement information related to the worst forms of child labor, including the number of investigations conducted, violations found, and prosecutions initiated.

2014 – 2016

Increase the amount of training, human resources, and funding for agencies responsible for enforcing laws related to child labor.

2011 – 2016

Coordination

Streamline coordination across agencies and encourage effective coordination between the NCPC and the NCC.

2012 – 2016

Government Policies

Adopt a policy that addresses the worst forms of child labor, such as commercial sexual exploitation.

2014 – 2016

Social Programs

Conduct research to determine the prevalence of child labor in Mauritius to inform policies and programs.

2013 – 2016

Ensure that all children, including those with disabilities, can attend school without fear of physical or psychological abuse.

2014 – 2016

Ensure that victims of commercial sexual exploitation have access to comprehensive and quality social services.

2010 – 2016

1.         UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Mauritius. Geneva; February 27, 2015. Report No. CRC/C/MUS/CO/3-5. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/MUS/CO/3-5&Lang=En.

2.         U.S. Department of State. "Mauritius," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2016. Washington, DC; June 30, 2016; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258820.htm.

3.         UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 2011: Mauritius. Prepared by Government of Mauritius, Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. October 28, 2013. http://www.refworld.org/docid/54ae68ad4.html.

4.         Otieno, J. "Child labour in Africa: A worrying spike in numbers." africareview.com [online] August 7, 2013 [cited November 28, 2015]; http://www.africareview.com/Special-Reports/Child-labour-spike-worrying-in-Africa/-/979182/1940132/-/view/printVersion/-/g9yi8iz/-/index.html.

5.         U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, January 12, 2017.

6.         UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). [accessed December 16, 2016]; http://data.uis.unesco.org/. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. This ratio is the total number of new entrants in the last grade of primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population at the theoretical entrance age to the last grade of primary education. A high ratio indicates a high degree of current primary education completion. The calculation includes all new entrants to the last grade (regardless of age). Therefore, the ratio can exceed 100 percent, due to over-aged and under-aged children who enter primary school late/early and/or repeat grades. For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

7.         UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received December 15, 2016. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children’s work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor.  For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

8.         NGO Safire. Study on Street Children in Mauritius; February 2012. http://safire-ngo.org/assets/pdf/thematic/Report_on_Street_Children.pdf.

9.         U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, February 25, 2015.

10.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 8, 2015.

11.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, January 15, 2016.

12.       U.S. Department of State. "Mauritius," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2016. Washington, DC; 2017; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265280.

13.       UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Concluding Observations in relation to the initial report of Mauritius; September 4, 2015. Report No. CRPD/C/MUS/CO/1. http://www.refworld.org/docid/55eed7a94.html

14.       Government of Mauritius. Annual Report 2013-2014. Port Louis, Ombudsperson for Children's Office; September 30, 2014. http://oco.govmu.org/English/Documents/Annual%20report%202014.pdf.

15.       Buglow, Y. "Violence and antisocial behaviour in schools – How big is the problem?" halleymovement.org [online] October 19, 2012 [cited January 27, 2015]; http://halleymovement.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/defimedia_19Oct12.pdf.

16.       Pelerins, A. Children of Mauritius: Realizing Children’s Rights in Mauritius, Humanium, [online] October 23, 2012 [cited January 27, 2015]; http://www.humanium.org/en/mauritius/.

17.       Government of Mauritius. Employment Rights Act, Act No. 33 of 2008, enacted September 19, 2008. [source on file].

18.       Government of Mauritius. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, Act No. 28 of 2005, enacted October 28, 2005. [source on file].

19.       Government of Mauritius. Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius, enacted March 12, 1968. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_protect/---protrav/---ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_126778.pdf.

20.       Government of Mauritius. The Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009, Act No. 2 of 2009, enacted May 8, 2009. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_protect/---protrav/---ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_126787.pdf.

21.       Government of Mauritius. Child Protection Act, Act No. 30 of 1994, enacted April 1, 1995. [source on file].

22.       Government of Mauritius. Criminal Code, enacted December 29, 1938 [source on file].

23.       Government of Mauritius. The Dangerous Drugs Act 2000, Act No. 41 of 2000, enacted December 29, 2000. http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s18370en/s18370en.pdf.

24.       Government of Mauritius. Education Act, enacted December 28, 1957. [source on file].

25.       Child Soldiers International. Louder than words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers. London; 2013. https://www.child-soldiers.org/shop/louder-than-words-1.

26.       Government Information Service. Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare calls for reforms, Government of Mauritius, [online] March 5, 2015 [cited November 28, 2015]; http://www.govmu.org/English/News/Pages/Minister-of-Gender-Equality,-Child-Development-and-Family-Welfare-calls-for-reforms.aspx.

27.       Government of Mauritius. Written communication. Submitted in response to U.S. Department of Labor Federal Register Notice "Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor". Port Louis; January 4, 2016. [source on file].

28.       Government of Mauritius. The Ombudsperson for Children Act, Act No. 41 of 2003, enacted November 20, 2003. [source on file].

29.       Government of Mauritius. Annual Report 2015-2016. Port Louis, Ombudsperson for Children's Office; 2016. http://oco.govmu.org/English/Documents/2016/Ombudsperson_Annual_report.pdf.

30.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, March 02, 2017.

31.       Government of Mauritius. Comments. Submitted in response to U.S. Department of Labor publication "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, September 30, 2013". Port Louis; January 11, 2013. [source on file].

32.       IOM. Mauritius Overview. website; 2016. http://www.iom.int/countries/mauritius.

33.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, February 02, 2017.

34.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 16, 2016.

35.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 27, 2016.

36.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, January 15, 2015.

37.       Mauritius Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment. Updated Report Following the 2010 US Report–Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour; July 19, 2012. [source on file].

38.       TheCode.org. "Mauritius launches its first Symposium on Child Protection against all sorts of exploitation including commercial and sexual exploitation in travel and Tourism." [online] December, 2016 [cited January 11, 2017]; http://www.thecode.org/mauritius-launches-its-first-symposium-on-child-protection-against-all-sorts-of-exploitation-including-commercial-and-sexual-exploitation-in-travel-and-tourism/.

39.       Government of Mauritius. Sixth National Assembly- Parliamentary Debates. Port Louis; July 19, 2016. http://mauritiusassembly.govmu.org/English/hansard/Documents/2016/hansard1716.pdf.

40.       U.S. Embassy- Port Louis. reporting, January 29, 2013.

41.       Government of Mauritius. Child Safety Online Action Plan for Mauritius. Port Louis; January 2009. http://www.govmu.org/portal/sites/sid2010/files/Final%20Action%20Plan%20version.pdf.

42.       Government of Mauritius. Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020. Port Louis; October 2009. [source on file].

43.       UNESCO. Education for All 2015 National Review- Mauritius; May 2015. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002310/231077e.pdf.

44.       The President of the Republic of Mauritius, First Session of the Sixth National Assembly of Mauritius. Government Program - Achieving Meaningful Change (2015-2019). January 27, 2015; http://www.lexpress.mu/sites/lexpress/files/attachments/article/2015/2015-01/2015-01-27/govprog2015.pdf.

45.       Government of Mauritius. "Mauritius: Government Programme 2015-2019 - Emphasis On Development With a Human Dimension." allafrica.com [online] January 28, 2015 [cited November 28, 2015]; http://allafrica.com/stories/201501281495.html.

46.       IOM. IOM Builds Capacity to Combat Human Trafficking in Mauritius. Press Release. Geneva; January 29, 2016. https://www.iom.int/news/iom-builds-capacity-combat-human-trafficking-mauritius.

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