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Mauritius

Executive Summary

Mauritius is a multiparty democracy governed by the prime minister, the Council of Ministers, and the National Assembly. International and local observers judged elections for both the prime minister and legislators in 2014 to be generally free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Human rights issues included security force abuse of suspects and detainees; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; government corruption; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against women; child marriage; and restrictions on labor rights.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government. Enforcement of prosecution and punishment was inconsistent and sometimes politically influenced, resulting in impunity.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution and law prohibit such practices, but there continued to be widespread allegations of police abuse. On November 13, six prison officers stripped naked a Nigerian detainee after the same prison officers beat him and left him without medical assistance. He remained in solitary confinement. On November 19, while appearing in court, a Supreme Court judge ordered that the detainee file a police complaint against the prison officers in order to start a police investigation. By year’s end no arrest had been made.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

While conditions did not always meet international standards, there were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: There were reports that prison officials failed to provide timely adequate medical assistance. Lack of maintenance of sanitary equipment and the absence of readily available detergent generated hygiene problems in some of the prisons. Inmates’ relatives sometimes turned to private radio stations to denounce hygiene conditions or other problems in the prisons. For example, the Mauritian wife of the Nigerian detainee (see above) called a private radio station to denounce the case.

Administration: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) claimed that every prisoner complaint was dealt with expeditiously. There were allegations of mistreatment, and the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) Division of the NHRC noted an increase in assaults by guards in prisons.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted prison visits by independent nongovernmental observers, including the press, the NPM Division of the NHRC, independent local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the EU, and foreign missions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press; however, the law was amended on October 31 to prevent internet users from posting anything that could cause “annoyance, humiliation, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to any person” on social media. Anyone found guilty faces 10 years imprisonment.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views.

The government owned the sole domestic television network, MBC TV, and opposition parties and media commentators regularly criticized the station for its allegedly progovernment bias and unfair coverage of opposition parties as well as alleged interference in the network’s daily operations by the prime minister’s senior adviser. International television networks were available by subscription or via cable. Stringent limitations on foreign investment in local broadcast media contained in the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act were deterrents to the establishment of independent television stations.

Violence and Harassment: Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of violence or harassment against journalists.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: On November 8, the immigration services of Dubai interrogated and threatened to deport a Mauritian citizen living in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly posting offensive comments on social media against the Mauritian government. The interrogation was allegedly the result of an Interpol investigation. Mauritian press reported, however, that a senior member of the Mauritian government may have intervened to initiate the Dubai authorities’ action. Additionally there were anecdotal reports that a government agent intimidated the relatives of a social media user to discourage them from posting antigovernment comments online.

The government continued its 1989 ban on The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. While bookstores could not legally import the book, purchasers could buy it online without difficulty.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet. According to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 56 percent of the population used the internet in 2017.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future