While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was not colonized until 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.
The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ilea de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.
Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 15% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.
The Franco-Mauritian elite control nearly all of the large sugar estates and are active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus.
Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius' first steps toward self-rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)--a traditionalist Hindu party--won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.
Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa, with a GDP of $4.5 billion in 2001 and per capita income close to $3,800. The economy has sustained high 6% annual growth rate for the last two decades--first driven by sugar, then textiles/apparel and tourism, and most recently by financial services. Independent assessments uniformly rank Mauritius as one of the most competitive economies in Africa. With a per capita income of U.S. $3,800, Mauritius is now classified as a middle-income country and ranks, on the basis of the recent Human Development Index for 173 countries, 67th globally, 40th among developing countries, and second in Africa.
Economic growth slowed down in 2001, falling to 5.8% from 9.3% in 1999, mainly as a result of a lower growth rate in the sugar and tourism sector. In 2002, the economy expanded by more than 4%, boosted considerably by increased trade through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) legislation.
Over the past several years Mauritius registered balance-of-payments surpluses leading to a comfortable external reserves position (currently equivalent to more than 9 months of imports), an external debt service ratio of only 7%, and modest single-digit inflation on average. The inflation rate increased from 4.2% in 2000 to 5.4% in 2001. It is expected to reach 6.3% in 2002, owing to the recent increase in the rate of VAT from 12% to 15% as well as large increases in government spending.
However, the rising trend in unemployment and the deterioration in public finances are matters of concern. The unemployment rate rose steadily from 2.7% in 1991 to 9.2% in 2001, representing 48,000 unemployed people. It reached just above 10% in 2002. The budget deficit increased from 3.8% of GDP in fiscal year 1999-2000 (July-June) to 6.7% in FY 2001-02. As a result of a series of fiscal measures taken by the government, the budget deficit was expected to fall to 6% on FY 2002-03. However, the government's objective is to bring down the budget deficit gradually to about 3% of GDP by FY 2005-06.
While Mauritius relies heavily on exports of sugar, textiles/garments, and tourism, services like Freeport, offshore business, and financial services constitute other pillars of the economy. The offshore sector is playing an increasingly important role in the financial services sector and is emerging as a growth vehicle for the economy. At the end of October 2002, the number of companies registered in the offshore sector reached 20,111. The Mauritius Freeport, the customs duty-free zone in the port and airport, aims at transforming Mauritius into a major regional distribution, transshipment, and marketing center. The Freeport zone provides facilities for warehousing, transshipment operations and minor processing, simple assembly, and repackaging. At the end of October 2002, the total number of Freeport licenses issued reached 940, of which 230 companies were operational, mostly in trading activities.
There has been growing realization on the part of the government that the traditional industries of sugar, textile, and tourism are no longer capable of sustaining further wealth and job creation. Accordingly, the government is giving high priority to the development of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector with the aim of transforming Mauritius into a cyber island. The Business Parks of Mauritius, Ltd. was set up by the government to spearhead the development, construction, and management of major business and IT parks in Mauritius. It has secured a line of credit of $100 million from the Indian Government for the creation of the first cyber-city at Ebene, which is expected to be completed by December 2003. Already a number of renowned international firms engaged in software development, ICT training, PC manufacturing and call centers, are planning to start operations in the cyber city. Also expected to give a further boost to the development of the ICT sector are the recent operation of the Southern Africa Far East (SAFE) optical fiber cable and the liberalization of telecommunications services beginning January 1, 2003.
Although the near-term outlook for growth is encouraging, the challenges facing Mauritius in the long-term are daunting. On the domestic front, the decline in fertility and the aging of the population will decrease the available pool of labor for the economy, thus reducing the long-term growth potential. Also, before the end of this decade, the trade preferences and the market protection on which Mauritius has built its success will be eroded by the forces of globalization, liberalization, and economic integration. The elimination in December 2004 of the global quotas on clothing under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement will expose the local textile sector to competition from other exporting countries, including those in Asia and South America. In the case of sugar, ongoing negotiations between the European Union and sugar-exporting countries and future multilateral liberalization will likely reduce the profitability of the Mauritian sugar industry.
The government has taken a number of measures to prepare the country to face these challenges. With regard to sugar, the government has come up with a 5-year Sugar Sector Strategic Plan (2001-05), which provides for the restructuring and rationalization of the sugar industry, decreasing the number of sugar mills from 14 to 7 and reducing the current labor force of 30,000 by up to 7,000 through a voluntary retirement scheme. As far as the textile sector is concerned, the U.S.-Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides preferential access for apparel exports to the U.S. market, is expected to mitigate the negative effect of the elimination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement at the end of 2004. The AGOA also is seen as a good opportunity to diversify the sector by encouraging spinning and weaving operations and promoting regional integration of the local textile industry with other Sub-Saharan countries eligible for AGOA benefits
The forebears of the various ethnic groups composing Mauritian society arrived as settlers, slaves, indentured laborers, and immigrants. Although the country's past contains dark chapters of inequality and exploitation, modern Mauritian history has been remarkable for its relatively smooth and peaceful transition from colonial rule and the rule of large plantation owners to multiparty democracy.
"Harmonious separatism" is the way in which one writer characterizes communal relations in Mauritius. The term, however, does not preclude the existence of tensions. Ethnicity, religion, and language have been important factors in shaping the way Mauritians relate to each other in the political and social spheres. And despite the fact that sectarian factors are less of a determining factor in people's social and political behavior, they remain an important clue to the people's past and self-identity.
The 1968 constitution recognized four population categories: Hindus, Muslims, Sino-Mauritians, and the general population. According to a 1989 estimate, of a total population of 1,080,000, Hindus constituted about 52 percent (559,440); the general population, about 29 percent (309,960); Muslims, about 16 percent (179,280); and Sino-Mauritians, about 3 percent (31,320).
The ancestors of the Hindu and Muslim populations came predominantly from the Indian subcontinent, and, from the censuses of 1846 to 1952, were classified as "Indo-Mauritians." The ancestral language of most Hindus is Hindi or Bhojpuri, with a minority of Tamil or Telegu speakers. Hindu immigrants brought with them the caste system. Upon arrival to the island, many members of lower castes upgraded their status to join the Vaish middle caste. Although the caste system was not supported by the occupational structure as in India, minority members of the high Brahmin and Khsatriya castes sometimes joined with the Vaish to exclude lower castes from top civil service and political jobs. For the most part, however, the caste system is not an important factor in social organization and, if anything, lingers mainly as a basis for choosing spouses. Most of the Hindu population adheres to the orthodox rituals of the Sanatanist branch of the religion. These Hindus observe their rituals in rural community centers called baitkas. The Arya Samajists adhere to a reform branch of Hinduism popular with the lower classes and instrumental in the Indo-Mauritian community's political and cultural development in the early years of the twentieth century.
The Muslim population is approximately 95 percent Sunni and Hindi-speaking. Other languages include Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Urdu, and Arabic. The principal place of worship is the Jummah Mosque in Port Louis, but there are many smaller mosques in the towns and villages. Among the Shia minority, some have their origins in different parts of India, others are adherents of the Agha Khan from East Africa, and still others are Ahmadist from the Punjab.
The earliest Chinese immigrants to the island came from the Canton region and spoke Cantonese, but most Sino-Mauritians descend from Mandarin-speaking settlers from Hunan. Some adhere to Buddhism and other Chinese religions, but many converted to Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century.
Unlike members of these specific population categories, those grouped under the general population rubric do not share close ethnic and cultural bonds. Members of the general population have in common only the fact that they do not belong to the other three groups. This category includes Franco-Mauritians, other European immigrants, and Creoles. The Creoles are ethnically diverse, some with black African ancestry, others of mixed descent, and still others from parts of Asia. They share a common language, which is a patois based on French, and the Roman Catholic religion.
In the past, a close association existed between certain occupations and ethnic groups. Although these patterns persist, they are changing. The Chinese, for example, predominate in commerce, as store owners and assistants, and in the restaurant and casino businesses. Hindus form the majority of agricultural workers, and members of the Muslim and Creole populations are artisans. African Creoles tend to be dockworkers, fishers, transportation workers, or service employees. Franco-Mauritians dominate the sugar industry and own most of the hotels, banks, and manufacturing industries. The civil service attracts educated members of all groups.
Mauritian society is noteworthy for its high degree of religious tolerance. Mauritians often share in the observances of religious groups other than their own. In part as a result of the multiplicity of religions, Mauritius has more than twenty national holidays. In addition, the government grants subsidies to all major religious groups according to their membership. According to the 1990 census, 49 percent of the population was Hindu, 27 percent Roman Catholic, 16 percent Muslim, and 0.5 percent Protestant; 7.5 percent belonged to other groups.
Language is perhaps the most complex and perplexing aspect of the Mauritian social mosaic. This intricacy derives from the number of languages spoken combined with the uses to which they are put and the sociopolitical connotations they bear. Philip Baker and Peter Stein, scholars studying language use in Mauritius, have found that English is associated with "knowledge," French with "culture," Creole with "egalitarianism," and other languages, "ancestral heritage." Consequently, although Creole is the most widely spoken language in the country, French predominates in the media, and English is the official language of government and school instruction.
The growing use of Creole by non-Creole Mauritians reflects a widespread movement away from ethnically based language use. Among Muslims and Sino-Mauritians, for example, Creole is the principal language. According to the 1983 census, the top five languages were: Creole, 54.1 percent; Bhojpuri, 20.4 percent; Hindi, 11.5 percent; French, 3.7 percent; and Tamil, 3.7 percent. These figures indicate the principal language used in the home. Most Mauritians, however, speak several languages.
Laws governing the Mauritian penal system are derived partly from old French codes and English law. The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, presided over by the chief justice and five other judges who also serve as judges of the Court of Appeal, the Industrial Court, and ten district courts. Final appeal can be made to the Queen's Privy Council in Britain; approximately 50 percent of the Supreme Court rulings referred to the Privy Council have been reversed. There are no political or military courts in Mauritius. The prison system consists of four facilities; a prison, a rehabilitation center, a youth institution, and an industrial school. The daily average prison population is 700.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The crime rate in Mauritius is low compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Mauritius. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Mauritius will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2001 was 3.44 per 100,000 population for Mauritius, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.61 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2001 was 3.52 for Mauritius, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 31.77 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2001 was 104.86 for Mauritius, 4.08 for Japan, and 148.50 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2001 was 12.2 for Mauritius, 23.78 for Japan, and 318.55 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2001 was 106.32 for Mauritius, 233.60 for Japan, and 740.80 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2001 was 943.85 for Mauritius, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2484.64 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2001 was 6.7 for Mauritius, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 430.64 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 1180.89 for Mauritius, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4160.51 for USA. (Note that Japan data are for year 2000)
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 2001 and 2002, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 3.44 to 2.63 per 100,000 populations, a decrease of 23.55%. The rate for rape decreased from 3.52 to 3.14, a decrease of 10.8%. The rate of robbery decreased from 104.86 to 101.43, a decrease of 3.27%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 12.2 to 17.71, an increase of 45.16%. The rate for burglary increased from 106.32 to 125.74, an increase of 18.27%. The rate of larceny decreased from 943.85 to 868.09, a decrease of 8.03%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 6.7 to 7.2, an increase of 7.46%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 1180.89 to 1125.94, a decrease of 4.65%.
The Republic of Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy governed by a prime minister, a council of ministers, and a national assembly. In September, the Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, became Head of State while the Deputy Prime Minister, Paul Raymond Berenger, became Prime Minister. In accordance with a power sharing agreement negotiated during the 2000 electoral season between the two parties of the ruling coalition government, the Mauritian Socialist Movement (MSM) and the Militant Mauritian Movement (MMM), respectively. National and local elections, supervised by an independent commission, take place at regular intervals. According to international and local observers, the national elections, held in 2000, were free and fair and resulted in a victory for the opposition MSM and the MMM coalition. There were numerous political parties, and politics were open and vigorous. The judiciary was independent.
A paramilitary Special Mobile Force was responsible for internal security. The country does not have a military separate from the Police Forces. The Coast Guard, the Special Mobile Forces, and the Police Forces all report to the Commissioner of Police. The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. Some members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.
There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents.
Judicial inquiries into all six cases of deaths in police custody in 2002 and 2001 were pending at year's end.
The investigation into the 2001 beating to death of a man by prisoners and a prison guard was completed and submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to determine whether to prosecute. There was no decision by year's end.
In June, the magistrate investigating the 1999 death in police custody of Kaya, a popular Creole singer, found that there was no foul play. However, some reports indicated that Kaya died of traumatic head injuries, which could not have been self-inflicted.
In October, Hizbullah leader Mohammad Fakemeeah (also known as Cehl Meeah) was released from prison after charges were dropped by the DPP. He and three others were charged with the 1996 killings of three rival Muslim political activists.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
The law prohibits torture and inhuman punishment, and authorities generally respected this prohibition; however, there continued to be complaints of abuses by the police. The most frequent form of alleged police abuse was the use of force to coerce a suspect to sign a confession.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security forces raped women during the year.
During the year, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) received 161 human rights complaints. In addition, the Complains Investigation Bureau, an office in the Police Department, received 186 complaints against police involving alleged brutality or use of force during the year.
The Police Force is a national force headed by a Commissioner of Police. There is no military. All security forces including the Coast Guard, the Special Mobile Forces, and the Police Forces report to the Commissioner of Police. The Special Mobile Force is a paramilitary unit that is responsible for internal security, and is backed by a general duty police force. Both forces were largely apolitical, but criticized for being inadequately trained to prevent or control rioting, or to investigate violent crimes. During the year, the second in command of the Central Investigative Bureau was investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for allegedly spending a weekend free of charge at a luxury hotel with his family. The investigation was ongoing at year's end.
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions.
The Dangerous Drugs Act allows law enforcement authorities to hold suspected drug traffickers for up to 36 hours without access to bail or legal counsel, and the law also permits a 36-hour detention of suspects without legal counsel. During the year, there were two complaints to the Police, alleging delays in lawyer access to prisoners.
In most cases, suspects were provided prompt access to family and defense counsel; however, police in some cases delayed suspects' access to defense counsel. Minors and those who did not know their rights were more likely not to be provided prompt access. In 2002, the Government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act; however, there were no arrests under this act during the year.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice.
The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, which has appellate powers, and a series of lower courts. Final appeal may be made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants had the right to private or court-appointed counsel.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
Prison conditions generally met international standards. Food, water, and medical care were available to all prisoners, and sanitation was adequate.
On September 26 and 27, police officers injured 22 inmates of the Beau-Bassin prison when the Commissioner of Prisons ordered them in to enforce discipline. Prisoners had been protesting prison conditions over the previous 2 weeks. According to local press accounts, there was roughly a 24-hour delay in providing medical assistance for the injured. As a result, the Commissioner of Prisons was forced into early retirement.
Women were held separately from men, and juveniles were held separately from adults. Pre-trial detainees were held separately from convicted prisoners. HIV positive prisoners were held separately from the general prison population. The Government started a program to test all prisoners for HIV/AIDS; however, the program was not completed at year's end.
During the year, four persons died in custody, all reportedly from natural causes. The Government permitted prison visits by independent observers. During the year, the press, the NHRC, and international organizations made regular prison visits, and diplomatic observers visited a medium security prison.
Domestic violence against women, particularly spousal abuse, was a problem, according to the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, and Family Welfare; attorneys; and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The law criminalizes domestic violence and provides the judicial system with greater powers to combat this problem. In 2001, the NGO SOS Femmes published a study on domestic violence in the country in which 84 percent of the women surveyed reported being victims of physical abuse.
Alcohol or drugs was a contributing factor in nearly 70 percent of these domestic violence cases. According to the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, and Family Welfare, between January and July, there were 69 reported cases of domestic violence against women. Nevertheless, many victims still chose not to prosecute or report their attacker, primarily due to cultural pressures.
Many women remained in abusive situations for fear of losing financial spousal support. A magistrate can order a spouse to pay child support, but there are reports that some spouses stopped working to avoid payment. The law criminalizes the abandonment of one's family or pregnant spouse for more than 2 months, the nonpayment of court-ordered food support, and sexual harassment.
Although specific laws make rape illegal including spousal rape, it was a problem.
Prostitution is illegal; however, there were reports of prostitution during the year.
Traditionally women have played subordinate roles in society, and societal discrimination continued; however, women had access to education, employment, and government services.
The National Remuneration Board (NRB) changed minimum salaries to reflect more clearly gender equality in some industries. According to the Sex and Discrimination Act, enacted in March, women are afforded broadly defined wage protections. The law states "no employer shall discriminate against a person on the ground of that person's sex in terms of the conditions on which employment is offered," and this law was generally respected in practice.
In the agricultural sector, women are protected by law from being forced to carry loads above certain weight limits; however, remuneration is determined by the amount that one is able to carry during a period of time. As a result, women working in agriculture were often paid less than men because they carried less.
The Government placed strong emphasis on the health and welfare of children and displayed a commitment to expand educational opportunities for children. Education is tuition free and compulsory until the age of 12. Books are free for primary school, but not for secondary school. Those parents that cannot afford books could apply to the Government for an exemption and receive books free of charge. Attendance at the primary level was 100 percent, but only 64 percent at the secondary level. In 2001, the Government launched an education reform plan to increase mandatory education to the age of 16 by year's end. The plan eliminated the ranking of primary students based on their scores in a primary education certificate exam with the objective of making more students eligible to attend secondary school. During the year, the Government began building new schools and converting some schools, including private schools, into a regional network of secondary schools to accommodate the increase in secondary school students. In January, seven new secondary schools opened and three more secondary schools were constructed.
The Government provided full medical care for children.
Although incidents of child abuse were reported, private voluntary organizations claimed that the problem was more widespread than was acknowledged publicly. The state-funded National Children's Council and the Ministry of Women's Rights, Family Welfare, and Child Development administered most government programs. Both provided counseling, investigated reports of child abuse, and took remedial action to protect affected children.
Under the law, certain acts compromising the health, security, or morality of a child were crimes.
Child prostitution was a problem. A 1998 study reported that children entered into prostitution as early as age 13. Their clientele reportedly included industrialists, professionals, police officers, parliamentarians, and government ministers. The Government targeted child prostitution as a top law enforcement and prevention priority, and in 2002, the Government implemented a 5-year action plan with a series of recommendations to combat child prostitution. The plan was published in January. The Ministry of Women, Child Development, and Family Welfare ran a hot line for reporting cases of child prostitution, and only one case was reported in 2002. Some NGOs formed regional awareness networks and developed training materials for educators. The results of a task force on prostitution's quantitative study on the magnitude of child prostitution in the country had not been released by year's end.
Child prostitution is a criminal act, whereby the adult was considered the offender, while the child involved was given social assistance. Child pornography also is a crime, and the child was offered social aid while the adult offender was prosecuted.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The law prohibits trafficking in children, but does not specifically mention trafficking in adults; however, there were no reports of trafficking in persons in the country during the year.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children was a problem.
DRUG TRAFFICKING AND MONEY LAUNDERING
Mauritius is a developing financial hub and a major route for foreign investments into the Asian sub-continent. Officials in Mauritius indicate that the majority of money laundering in Mauritius takes the form of schemes to purchase goods in other countries with illegal funds and selling the goods in Mauritius.
Money laundering is a criminal offense in Mauritius. In February 2002, Mauritius approved the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which replaced the Economic Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2000. The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act provides for the establishment of a financial intelligence unit (FIU) located within the Ministry of Economic Development, Financial Services, and Corporate Affairs. The FIU became operational on August 9, 2002. The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act also imposes penalties on persons committing money laundering offenses; establishes suspicious activity reporting obligations for banks, financial institutions, cash dealers, and relevant professions; and provides for cooperation with the FIUs of other countries.
The FIU has the responsibility of collecting and analyzing suspicious activity reports (SARs), and forwards those reports to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The ICAC, set up in June 2002, has the power to investigate money laundering offenses. The ICAC also has the authority to freeze and seize the assets related to money laundering. Since its inception, the FIU has developed into a fully functioning organization recognized by and admitted to the Egmont Group of FIUs. Its major challenge continues to be the development of an information technology structure to store SARs, perform complex analyses, and be accessible to other law enforcement entities.
In 2000, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conducted a review of Mauritiusís anti-money laundering regime against the 25 specified criteria for evaluating non-cooperative countries and territories. After conducting the review, the FATF did not designate Mauritius as a non-cooperative country. More recently, in August 2003, Mauritius underwent a joint IMF-World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). The FSAP report noted the GOM progress towards addressing deficiencies developing a comprehensive anti-money laundering program.
Mauritius has an active offshore financial sector. In 2001, the Financial Services Development Act was passed. This Act established the Financial Service Commission (FSC), which performs the functions that were formerly carried out by the Mauritius Offshore Business Activities Authority (MOBAA). The FSC is responsible for the regulation, which includes the licensing and regulating, of the non-bank financial sector. All applications to form offshore companies must be reviewed by the FSC. Information on companies can also be requested from the FSC. Along with reviewing of applications, the FSC supervises activities of offshore companies.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002 was promulgated in Mauritius on February 19, 2002. This legislation criminalizes terrorist financing. Finally, the legislation gives the Government of Mauritius powers to track and investigate terrorist-related funds, property, and assets, and cooperate with international bodies.
Mauritius is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Mauritius has signed, but not yet ratified, both the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Mauritius is a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a FATF-style regional body. In August 2003, representatives from Mauritius attended the ESAAMLG sixth meeting of the Task Force in Uganda. Mauritius also completed the first round of ESAAMLG mutual evaluations in 2003. Mauritius is a member of the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors.
Mauritius should continue to take a leadership role in regional outreach through the Egmont Group. Mauritius should become a party to the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Internet research assisted by Karine Rashid Mozerka