University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights
, Mauritius, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/1995/18, paras. 228-247 (1996).

228. The Committee considered the initial report of Mauritius on articles 1 to 15 of the Covenant (E/1990/5/Add.21) at its 40th, 41st and 43rd meetings on 27 and 28 November 1995 and, at its 55th meeting on 6 December 1995, adopted the following concluding observations.

A. Introduction
229. The Committee welcomes the comprehensive initial report of the State party, prepared in accordance with its revised general guidelines, which was submitted shortly after substantive concluding observations were adopted by the Committee in May 1994. The Committee recalls that, prior to this, Mauritius had not fulfilled its reporting obligations under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant since it became a State party on 3 January 1976. In the continued absence of the report, the Committee proceeded at its tenth session to consider the state of implementation by Mauritius of the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Covenant.

230. The Committee thanks the State party for the written response to the list of issues and for the additional information provided by the delegation during its open and constructive dialogue with the Committee.

B. Factors and difficulties impeding the
implementation of the Covenant

231. The Committee considers that, notwithstanding the geographical isolation of the island of Rodrigues and the consequent logistical problems in the delivery of basic government services, a fact which is a considerable impediment, the Mauritian Government is still under the obligation to ensure the enjoyment by the population of Rodrigues of its economic, social and cultural rights.

C. Positive aspects
232. The Committee commends the positive reaction by the State party to the concluding observations referred to in paragraph 229 above, which have been taken into account in introducing changes in Mauritian law. In particular it welcomes the amendments in August 1995 of Section 16 of the Constitution of Mauritius, which now prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in addition to "colour or creed", and of the Citizenship Act of 1968, removing gender discrimination in relation to foreign spouses of Mauritians.

233. The Committee notes with satisfaction the repeal of the 1984 Newspaper and Periodicals Act, which had hindered the freedom of expression regarding the Government's policies, including in the sphere of economic, social and cultural rights.

234. The Committee appreciates the measures being taken by the State party to improve legislation in the field of mental health and physical disability.

235. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the continuing economic growth in Mauritius has been accompanied by considerable achievements in human development, a fact already noted in the concluding observations of May 1994. The statistical profile on socio-economic indicators reflects a positive assertion of the avowed commitment by the Government to ensure better education, health and nutrition and a cleaner environment, to improve the quality of life, and to promote equality.

236. The Committee notes with appreciation the readiness of the State party, as expressed by the delegation, to continue constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Committee, with a view to ensuring the effective implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.

D. Principal subjects of concern
237. The Committee reiterates its concern that, despite encouraging developments in legislation, women in Mauritius continue to occupy a subordinate role in society affecting their full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly in the area of equal pay for men and women. In the agricultural sector for example, the Committee is not satisfied with the explanation of "differentiation but not discrimination" proffered by the delegation of Mauritius.

238. The Committee expresses its concern regarding the uncertain situation of foreign workers, and at the inability of the Government to ensure their rights as set forth in the Covenant, in particular in articles 6, 7 and 9.

239. With regard to article 8 of the Covenant, the Committee reiterates its concern as to the adverse effects of the Industrial Relations Act of 1973, which is still in force, on trade union rights and the right to strike. The Committee notes with concern that the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill proposed in 1994, far from following the recommendations of the Special Law Review Committee, appears to be even less favourable to the exercise of these rights and was thus rejected by the entire trade union movement of Mauritius. The same observation applies to the proposed National Pay and Productivity Council Bill.

240. The Committee expresses grave concern at the reported rise in child abuse, child prostitution, domestic violence against women, teenage pregnancy, abortion, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse. The Committee regrets the apparent absence of Government information and statistics on these matters, in spite of assurances from the delegation that further information will be sent in writing very soon.

241. The Committee expresses its regret that the State party has failed to disseminate public information concerning human rights in general, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in particular. In addition, it notes with concern the absence of human rights education in all school curricula.

E. Suggestions and recommendations
242. The Committee encourages the Government to pursue its current efforts to eliminate discriminatory practices against women and to ensure in the practical application of the new laws the full enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights.

243. The Committee recommends a review of the situation of foreign workers to ensure the same protection enjoyed by Mauritian nationals, in particular with regard to articles 6, 7 and 9 of the Covenant.

244. The Committee recommends that the revised industrial relations legislation to be proposed in the near future should take into account the report of the Special Law Review Committee and effectively enable the exercise of trade union rights, particularly the right to strike in conformity with the obligations which Mauritius has undertaken in this regard.

245. The Committee recommends an in-depth study and analysis of the situation of child abuse, child prostitution, domestic violence against women, teenage pregnancy, abortion, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse, and of how the State party can best protect and ensure the economic, social and cultural rights of the population of Mauritius affected by those problems. In this regard, the State party should, inter alia, initiate efforts to gather statistics and other information relevant to the situation.

246. The Committee recommends that the Government of Mauritius adopt without delay an intensive and systematic public information campaign on human rights in general, and on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in particular.

247. The Committee recommends that steps be taken to incorporate human rights education in all school curricula, in accordance with the goals and objectives of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education.

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