COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. At its 1173rd
and 1174th meetings, held on 15 and 16 August 1996 (see CERD/C/SR.1173-1174,
the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considered the
eighth to twelfth periodic reports on Mauritius (CERD/C/280/Add.2) and adopted,
at its 1180th meeting, held on 21 August 1996, the following concluding
2. The Committee
welcomes the eighth to twelfth periodic reports submitted by the Government
of Mauritius and expresses its appreciation for the opportunity to resume
the dialogue with the State party, after nine years of interruption. The
Committee also welcomes the detailed information provided orally by the
high-level delegation in answer to the wide range of questions asked by
members of the Committee.
3. It noted that
the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention; some members of the Committee requested the State party
to consider the possibility of making such a declaration.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
4. It is noted
that there are no significant factors or difficulties that prevent the effective
implementation of the Convention in Mauritius.
C. Positive aspects
5. The exemplary
spirit of tolerance between the various racial and ethnic communities in
Mauritius and the harmonious coexistence of their cultures are commended
as they create a sound basis for the full and effective implementation of
6. The establishment
of a Human Rights Unit within the Ministry of Justice, to monitor the reporting
procedures and to provide the various human rights treaty bodies with regular
reports, is welcomed.
7. The proposed
establishment of an equal opportunity commission, to compel employers in
the private sector to afford equal opportunities to people of different
origins, is also welcomed.
8. The possibility
for judges to refer in their pronouncements to the provisions of the Convention
and of any other human rights instrument, in addition to or in the absence
of an existing provision of domestic law, is noted with satisfaction.
9. The system of
the best losers, which provides for the nomination by the Electoral Commission
of up to four members to the National Assembly from among the best losers
in an election, with a view to balancing the representation of the various
racial and ethnic communities within the National Assembly, is viewed with
10. With regard
to article 2 of the Convention, the adoption in July 1991 of section 282
of the Criminal Code, which makes it an offence to publish or distribute
any threatening, abusive or insulting writings, to use in public any threatening,
abusive or insulting gestures or to broadcast threatening, abusive or insulting
matter, with intent to stir up contempt or hatred against any part of the
population distinguished by race, caste, place of birth, colour or creed,
is noted with appreciation.
11. It is noted
with appreciation that the full and equal enjoyment by everyone of the rights
enumerated in article 5 of the Convention, and in particular the right to
security of person, to marriage, to property, to freedom of thought, conscience
and religion, to housing, to health and social security, to education and
to participate in cultural activities, is guaranteed and ensured in Mauritius.
12. The amendment
of the Citizenship Act in August 1995 is a welcome development, since it
also lifted the obligation for foreign women, married to Mauritian citizens,
to renounce their nationality if they want to become Mauritian citizens.
article 7 of the Convention, the various activities undertaken with non-governmental
organizations, such as the programme "Teaching for Freedom" launched
by Amnesty International, or with United Nations agencies, such as the programme
introduced by UNICEF together with the Ministry of Education to sensitize
children to the ideas of peace, tolerance and interdependence, are welcomed.
Moreover, the elaboration in 1991 of the Master Plan on Education for the
Year 2000, which provides for the teaching in schools of subjects to foster
understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnic
groups, is noted with satisfaction.
D. Principal subjects of concern
14. The lack of
statistical data on the ethnic and racial composition of the population,
and on the representation of ethnic and racial communities at all levels
of the economic, social and political spheres, is regretted. In this regard,
the statement in paragraph 4 of the report that censuses in Mauritius do
not indicate the breakdown of the population on an ethnic or racial basis,
"in line with the Government policy to promote a Mauritian identity
amongst its people" is accepted by the Committee as long as it is not
aimed at forced assimilation of people with different origins.
15. Concern is
expressed that section 16 of the Constitution, which prohibits laws that
are discriminatory by their terms or in their effects, does not apply to
laws with respect to marriage, adoption, divorce, succession or other matters
regarding private law.
16. With regard
to the implementation of article 4 of the Convention, it is noted with concern
that the relevant provisions of Mauritian legislation do not prohibit organizations
and organized propaganda activities which promote racial discrimination,
as provided for in article 4 (b) of the Convention.
17. The lack of
practical information on the implementation of the various constitutional
and legal texts dealing with the prohibition of racial discrimination, on
their possible violation and on measures taken in such cases, with particular
reference to articles 4 and 6 of the Convention, is regretted.
18. The Committee
recommends that in its next periodic report the Government of Mauritius
supply statistical data on the composition of the population and on the
representation of all of the ethnic and racial communities in the political
and economic sectors. The Committee would also welcome social and economic
indicators on the Mauritian population.
19. The Committee
underlines the importance of the explicit prohibition of discriminatory
legislation. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the prohibition
of such discriminatory legislation, found in section 16 of the Constitution,
be extended to all matters of private law.
20. The Committee
emphasizes that the provisions of article 4 of the Convention are mandatory.
It thus recommends that legislative measures be taken to implement article
4 (b) of the Convention.
21. The Committee
recommends that the next periodic report contain complete information on
the implementation of the various provisions on the elimination of racial
discrimination in practice and on possible complaints and sentences imposed
for acts of racial or ethnic discrimination or in cases of incitement to
22. The Committee
suggests that the State party's report and the Committee's concluding observations
be widely publicized in Mauritius.
23. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify at its earliest convenience the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6 of the Convention, adopted by the 14th meeting
of States parties.
24. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report be a comprehensive
report and that it address all the points raised in the present observations.