Synopsis Of Situation In Mauritius Criminology Essay

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After having probed into an analysis of the provisions of the legislation as well as on its utility, the present section shall present a historical background on presence of human trafficking in Mauritius as well as the actual picture of the situation prevalent in Mauritius. Additionally, the disposition to tackle this crime will be further depicted.

4.1.1 SITUATION PREVALENT DURING COLONIAL PERIOD

Across history Mauritius has also been witness of human trafficking in the form of slavery and transportation of convicts to Mauritius. According to Anderson (2004), upon the abolition of slavery across the British Empire in 1807, having no indigenous residents to exploit, Mauritius desperately required labour to stimulate the enduring growth of sugarcane plantation. Starting at the end of the eighteenth till the middle of the nineteenth century, the British also transported some thousands convicts from India to new colonial acquisitions in Southeast Asia and Burma as well as to Mauritius. Between 1788 and 1868, around 160,000 convicts were transported from Britain, Ireland and hundreds more from West Indies, Canada and Mauritius to the Australian Penal Colonies (Anderson, 2004, p.6). The foremost shipping of a thousand of convicts to the island came from the Bengal and was allowed to return to their country on expiration of conviction. At that time, the convicts proved to be valuable for the advancement of the infrastructure in Mauritius. As a matter of fact, with the abolition of transport of convicts to Mauritius in 1837, the residents made persistent grievance upon the deterioration of roads condition and recurrent calls for reintroducing the system.

4.1.2 CURRENT SITUATION PREVALENT

There are several forms of trafficking in persons prevalent in Mauritius, ranging from prostitution to child labour as presented below.

(I)Prostitution

At present, prostitution is prevalent in all parts of the country but is rampant in the capital, that is, Port Louis. The Panafrican News Agency Daily Newswire in 2000, reported that as compared to other regions, prostitution in Mauritius is more prevalent in tourist resorts where the majority of clients are foreigners. According to reports, taxi drivers have been identified as acting as transport providers as well as an interface between the girls and prospective clients. There are also drug-addicted women, who are forced into prostitution by their boyfriends who normally act as pimps. There are other cases of victims like that of a woman who was sold by her husband to a police officer, whereby she was raped twice by the same person (Une mère, 2009). In addition, there are also instances whereby these prostitutes were coerced into this field by their parents since their childhood. To exemplify, the case of Sabrina, today aged 19 years old, who was forced into prostitution by her mother at the age of 16 and consequently continued in the same line of business. Ironically her mother is repeating the same story with her younger sister aged 13 (Trafic humain, 2009). There are also supposedly "Salon de beaute" which instead provide sexual services under cover of therapeutic massages (Reshad Toorab, 2009).

The most common form of human trafficking present in Mauritius is prostitution of minors and young girls. A massage parlor owner was arrested in January 2009 for indulging within the spa three girls in prostitution. The arrest of a man and woman in January 2008 lead to investigation which caused the two former to be charged with the offence of exploiting a 12 year old girl, who was none other than their niece into prostitution. This case was referred to the Director of Public Prosecution. Another case is that of a Mauritian who entered Italy illegally and became the sexual slave of his boss owing to his fear of being deported. Later, when the young man reported his ordeal to the police, the offender was arrested but ironically the parents of the former were assassinated. This shows clearly a lack of protection to victims of trafficking and their family (Un sans-papiers, 2009, p.8). As per the US Report on Human Trafficking in Mauritius, around ten cases are still under investigation, including two for keeping brothel while three for engaging child into prostitution.

(II)Child Trafficking

According to the US State Report 2009, Mauritius came up as a potential source of trafficking in children within the country for commercial sexual exploitation. These children are often secondary school-aged girls and of even lesser age from all areas of the country, including Rodrigues. According to Viren Budree, Chief Inspector of the Brigade des mineurs, in 2002, the UNICEF and the University of Mauritius jointly estimated that there were around 2,600 child prostitutes in Mauritius but no recent figures are available as no research was performed since. Hence, if the exact number of victims is difficult to establish, the figure of 4000 is unfortunately possible Further, Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra of the Ombudsperson for Children affirms that child prostitution occurs behind closed doors away from everyone's sight (Enfants prostitutes, 2008). They are coerced into prostitution, most of the time by their family members, peers, or persons offering other forms of employment. The rate of child prostitution in Mauritius is rising, with children from all regions of the country and belonging to all ethnic origins. It is estimated that demand for child prostitutes originates from local clientele (End Child Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking [ECPAT], 2004). Another form of trafficking in children exists in Mauritius in the form of child labour.

The first case of child trafficking, Police v Martinet C G And Other [1] , was prosecuted in Mauritius, under the Section 13 a (1) of the Child Protection Act, which was amended in 2005 to make the offence of trafficking in children liable to a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment. In the present case, the main protagonist Geraldine Martinet was convicted to ten years of imprisonment while her two sons, John Steward and Louis Steven were each inflicted with three years of imprisonment for having sexual intercourse with minors. The two minors aged 13 and 14 were trapped by the accused using their family and financial problems. The mode of operation of the trafficker in this case was to target vulnerable girls to be exploited for prostitution in return of which they were paid between Rs.500 to Rs.2000 (Jail for, 2009, p.21).

The accused was repeatedly warned by the police not to bring to her place minors but she simply ignored these warnings. The learned magistrate could have used this element as an aggravating circumstance to inflict the maximum penalty to the accused. It is worthwhile to note the verdict of the Magistrate where she sustained that the offence of child trafficking cannot be treated leniently. Any leniency of the court would send a wrong signal to the population. The sentence pronounced was a message to the traffickers that child trafficking is an abhorrent crime and will not be left unpunished.

In Re Pierre Charles Jacques Lamarie v The State [2] , the accused entered into transaction with the mother of a minor with a view to have sexual intercourse with the child in exchange of Rs 10,000. The Supreme Court standing on the same wavelength as in Re Martinet, held that; "...we fully endorse the observations of the learned Magistrates that a strong signal must be given that the Courts in this country will deal with severity offenders who will stop nowhere to satisfy their perverted lust and would be prepared to go to the extent of depraving young children of this country."

(III)Child Abduction

Apart from commercial sexual exploitation of children there is another form of child trafficking namely child abduction. Child abduction refers to the kidnapping of a child by an older person. There exists several types of abduction but the most common which exists in Mauritius is when one parent illegally retains the custody of a child from the care of the other parent [3] (Child Abduction, n.d.) Additionally, there is also international parental abduction whereby one parent either goes abroad with the child against a custody decree or visitation order or legally takes the child to their home country under the excuse of holiday but does not return and consequently violating the court's order. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Women, child Development and Family Welfare to monitor and investigate such cases.

In the event that a child has been abducted, the latter may be retrieved from the country through the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as Hague Convention. The primary goal of the convention is to ensure the immediate repatriation of abducted or illegally detained children in a member state which is not their country of origin. The convention being a multilateral treaty provides for an expedient way to return the abducted child [4] only from a signatory member to another.

(V)Organ Removal

Furthermore, there has also been recently a case of organ removal, whereby a patient admitted to the Flacq Hospital was mislead by the doctor (Ishwar Jhurry, 2010, p.28). The person's whole leg was severed unnecessarily although there exist different types of amputations that could have been performed and his left kidney was removed without his consent. This is clearly a case of trafficking whereby for the second operation, the patient was made to sign a form, the content of which he was not even aware of. It was only when he underwent an x-ray scan following stomach pains that it was discovered that one of his kidney was missing.

PROCEDURAL PROVISION TOWARDS COMBATING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Mauritius engaged itself to combat Human Trafficking through the entry into force of the "Combating of Trafficking In Persons Bill". In line with the Palermo Protocol, the Prime Minister sustained that the country wants to give a good signal (Au Parlement, 2009). In this way, the Mauritian government has demonstrated efforts in investigating human trafficking cases.

4.2.1 PROSECUTION

In the year 2008, 8 child sex trafficking convictions were reported among which five were prosecuted under 'debauching youth statute' and the three others under "brothel-keeping statute". The offenders were convicted to sentences ranging from 3 months to three years imprisonment along to fines representing $ 1,764. In January 2009, the Curepipe police arrested a massage parlor owner under the charge of exploitation three girls in prostitution within the spa (USDOS, 2009, p. 205).

During the same year, 3 cases of child prostitution were reported through a hotline administered by the Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare [5] . In the event, a case is reported to the Child Development Unit, the Brigade pour la protection des Mineurs and the Police shall investigate on the matter to see whether there is indeed child abuse and other forms of sexual exploitation as such. In case the child is seen to be at risk, an emergency protection order [6] is sought from the court so as to remove the latter from the potential place where he/she is likely or is being abused of (Miss Bundhun, Personal Communication, January 25, 2010). In investigating and prosecuting trafficking, victims' assistance is encouraged and the latter is not improperly detained, fined, or otherwise convicted exclusively for unlawful acts perpetrated as a direct consequence of being victims of trafficking. All victims of sexual abuse, especially minors, victim of sexual exploitation are consorted by a child welfare officer to the hospital. This officer works in strict collaboration with a police officer to procure a statement. NGO centers and public hospitals provide the victims with treatment and the psychological support (USDOS, 2009, p.206).

4.2.2 PROTECTION

(I) Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development

& Family Welfare

This Ministry [7] is responsible for catering for the rights of women, development of children and welfare of the family. It is confined with the duty to formulating and enforcing social policies and programs, for empowering women, ensuring child development and preserving welfare of the family (Ministry of Women rights, Child Development and Family Welfare [MWCDFW], 2009). Consequently, every manoeuvre of the MWCDFW is geared towards the creation of the ideal prerequisites and milieu for congruous child development, empowerment of women and welfare of families.

The major departments of the ministry include the women's unit, child development unit, family welfare unit, planning and research unit and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. There are also three parastatal bodies which work under the command of the Ministry which include National Women's Council, National Children Council and the National Women Entrepreneur Council. There are 6 Child Development Units around the island (MWCDFW, 2009).

Sexually abused children are normally taken in charge by NGO-run drop-in center which are funded by the state. In 2008, the center procured counseling services to relatively 16 girls engaged in prostitution. The services of the center were publicized and promoted via bumper stickers and toll-free number as well as in schools so as to reach the whole community. However, the major obstacle is that very often these shelters are overcrowded and limited in numbers (USDOS, 2009, p.205). Thus, ample caring services were not available for the victims identified across the country.

Accordingly, as seen inter alia to tackle this problem, funding has been acquired for the rent of a building to serve as a 'residential center' for children victim of trafficking (Office to monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons [G/TIP], 2010). In 2008, the Child Protection (Amendment) Act was passed creating 'a child mentoring scheme' for the support and rehabilitation of distressed children, comprising of children engaged in prostitution. In the same year 'a capacity-building program' was established for the Child Protection Committees present in five districts and which denounce cases of defenseless children as well as child prostitution in their corresponding vicinity (USDOS, 2009, p.206).

4.2.3 PREVENTION

(I) Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development

& Family Welfare

Surveillance programs were also carried out at places visited by children to identify and converse with those who were found as potential victims of sex trafficking, by law enforcers and child welfare officers. A far-flung awareness campaign, sensitising over 12,035 persons on child abuse, was executed by the joint collaboration of the Brigade Pour la Protection des Mineurs, Child Development Unit and Police Family Protection Unit, in schools and community centers including a séance on the perils and consequences of being engaged in prostitution. Additionally, more explicit training was procured to over 100 children in the region of Flic en Flac to avert child prostitution (USDOS, 2009, p.206).

The Ministry of Tourism, Leisure, and External Communications also distributed around 3,000 pamphlets to hotels and tour operators concerning the obligation of the tourism sector in combating child sex trafficking (Mr Satyam Jaggessur, Personal Communication, February 6, 2010).

(II) Passport & Immigration Office

The Passport and Immigration Office [8] being a branch of the Mauritius Police Force, works under the aegis of the Commissioner of Police. It is the sole authority to be vested with powers to procure Passport and Immigration Services (Passport and Immigration Office, [PIO], 2009). This department is mainly responsible to control and regulate entry and exit at border control and enforce immigration regulations in accordance to the Immigration Act, Passport Act, Non Citizens (Employment Restriction) Act and Deportation Act (Visa Handbook, 2009, p.1). It also controls vessels arriving and departing by air and sea and deals in tracing, tracking and repatriation of illegal immigrants. The main services provided include issuance of Mauritius passports, travel documents, visa to expatriates and visitors coming to Mauritius, residence permit and occupation permit to non citizens eligible for residence in Mauritius (PIO, 2006, p.3). The main operations of this department are conducted at the Head Office at Port Louis and other branches at the airport, harbour, Rodrigues and six sub offices around the island (PIO, 2006, p.4). The information further depicted below on the PIO was obtained from personal interview held on January 23 2010 of Mr Pursun, chief clerk at the same office.

The main role of the PIO is to deal with the repatriation, facilitation to trace the victims of trafficking and illegal migrants in Mauritius, it also liase with foreign affairs, the High Commission of Mauritius abroad, the Police Interpol in Mauritius. It is worthwhile to note that the PIO does not collaborate with NGOs, but instead work with other ministries and departments especially the Prime Minister's Office. However, the office is fully committed to assist any NGO sheltering illegal immigrants by repatriating the persons to their respective countries by issuing travel documents.

Where any noncitizen is victim of trafficking in Mauritus, PIO shall issue a deportation order authorized by the Prime Minister, to deport the person to his country of origin under escort. On the other hand, in case a Mauritian National is found to be victim of human trafficking or migrant smuggling, the latter may take shelter at the High Commission of Mauritius in that particular country. For instance, the case of Two Mauritians immigrated in London, were convicted with two years imprisonment each and ordered to pay £25,000 for legal costs for trafficking and exploitation of illegal Mauritians immigrants (Worthing human-traffickers, 2009). The High Commission shall report the case to the PIO, which shall issue an emergency travel document [9] to the victim to return to the country; in the event his/her passport has been lost or seized by the trafficker.

(a) Screening Program

The screening mechanism, which consists of profiling of passengers at arrival, departure and transit, is operated at the Board of Control upon the passengers. This function of the PIO existed well before the promulgation of the CTPA although the latter provide for a screening program at Section 5(2). The trafficking team has the responsibility to check whether the passenger is the right holder of the passport, which reflects his identity and nationality. In case of persons travelling in groups, it is verified whether they speak the same language. For instance, if ever only one speaks English while others do not, this is a clear indication that the former may be a trafficker and the latter potential victims to be trafficked. The relationship of a minor with the person accompanying is also scrutinized. If they are neither related by blood nor by ties, this might indicate a case of child trafficking or prostitution, paedophile, sexual exploitation and forced labour. The behaviour as well as the physical appearance of the suspected passenger, is also checked in order to dismantle any of the cases referred above. For example, whether the person is nervous, anxious or has an odd behaviour. In case, the team is made aware of any information or complaint, it foremost counter verifies it. If eventually no concrete evidence is formulated, they are put on a watch list for monitoring and they are repatriated to their country of origin.

(b) Monitoring Program

There is a close monitoring on the transportation from airports or harbour as well as that of facilitators at various points of entry and exit. The PIO is always on its guard for suspected falsified or fake documents and as at today no Mauritian cases were reported. The only case was of some Iraqi people who were trying to enter the territory of Mauritius with such papers. This department also deals with cases of harbouring leading to sequestration of victims. There is vigilant monitoring on matrimonial agencies and holiday makers, which may in the disguised of marriages and holidays packages respectively, lead to trafficking in persons in the form of prostitution. There is also a close watch on the possibility that Mauritians may also be tempted to go in other countries to engage is similar activities. Furthermore, screening of recruitment of labour locally and abroad is also a duty of the PIO.

The main objective of this monitoring program is to ensure that any suspected person is removed from the mainstream to check whether he/she is a genuine passenger. In case, the PIO discovers that the person is not genuinely a passenger, he is sent back by the plane in which he arrived. The recruitment of labour locally and abroad is also rigorously examined. There is a watch list of targeted destination like Madagascar, Africa, Russia, China and Ukraine. The PIO does not have any concrete evidence but simply hearsay information of Malagasy Women coming to Mauritius to engage in prostitution with sailors or even in hotels. Furthermore, the officers underwent constant training on human trafficking and detection of fraudulent document in Australia, America, England and Mexico.

This section dealt with the situation and procedural provisions in Mauritius. As it can be observed, prominent efforts has been made by the state for the prevention of child sex trafficking and reduction of the demand for such activities. The subsequent final chapter shall illustrate the recommendation to enhance the present legislation and improve the current situation and end up with some concluding remarks.

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