Adopted by the Committee: 30 January 2015
Published by the Committee: 4 February 2015
Ratification and national policy:
The Committee notes with appreciation the ratification of: The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in June 2011; The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, in February 2009 and The amendment to the Child Protection Act, which set up a Child Mentoring Scheme, of December 2008 (para.3,4).
Definition of a child:
The Committee is concerned that, while the age of marriage is set at 18 years (article 144 of the Civil Code), exceptions to the minimum age of marriage are possible and extensively granted as shown by the high number of underage marriages in the State party. The Committee is also concerned that the Child Protection Act defines a child as any unmarried person under the age of 18 (para.25).
The Committee is concerned that discrimination prevails notably in the form of obstacles in accessing and enjoying the various services and facilities, particularly with regard to children from disadvantaged and marginalised families, including street children, children who are affected and/or infected by HIV/AIDS, children using drugs, children deprived of their family environment, children with disabilities and minor offenders (para.27).
The Committee is concerned about the reported cases of persons whose birth has not been declared due to a lack of communication and lengthy procedures regarding late registration, especially in the cases of declaration after 45 days from birth (para.33).
The Committee is concerned that corporal punishment is applied in general as part of the school culture even though it is prohibited through the Education Regulations of 1957 and that corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited by law in all settings, including in the home and alternative care settings as well as in the penal system (para.37).
The Committee is concerned about the high prevalence of violence against children in the State party, evidenced by more than 6000 cases of children victims of violence, ill- treatment and sexual abuse which have been reported to the Child Development Unit of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. The Committee It is also concerned about the inadequate staffing of the Child Development Unit to effectively deal with the cases of child abuse, violence and neglect of children (para.39).
The Committee is concerned at the increase in sexual exploitation of children, especially child sex tourism, which is on the rise in some areas or neighbourhoods. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of systematic and compulsory reporting and investigation of sexual offences against children, the reported discontinuation of support to victims of sexual exploitation who have to return to their living environment, which might expose them to risks of further exploitation, and the inadequate rehabilitative services for the victims. The Committee is further concerned that training on investigation of sexual offences of children is not organized by adequately trained personnel, and that training to officers of the Child Development Unit is inadequate (para.41).
Children deprived of family environment:
The Committee is concerned about: The lack of a national strategy and programmes implemented to support parents and families to fulfil their child-rearing obligations and the lack of family counselling and parenting programmes, which increase the risk of neglect, maltreatment and abuse of children within the family; The lack of disaggregated data on children in need and on those provided with services and in different forms of alternative care; The lack of information on the assessment, selection, training, remuneration and supervision of foster parents and kinship caregivers, review procedures for children in care, as well as accreditation, minimum requirements for and supervision of children’s homes, and a complaint mechanism for children in public care, including State and private, NGO or church run facilities (para.43).
The Committee is concerned about the continued lack of a specific requirement to have a psychologist or social worker assessment to assist judges in determining the suitability of prospective adoptive parent(s) in order to ensure that the adoption, both domestic and international is in the best interests of the child. The Committee is also concerned about the absence of an established list of Mauritian parents applying for adoption, the absence of judicial verification if there are Mauritian families interested in adoption of Mauritian children, and of an independent body to facilitate and monitor the adoption process, including through the screening of prospective adoptive parents. The Committee is also concerned about the slow progress in adopting the new Adoption Bill (para.45).
Children of incarcerated parents:
The Committee notes that children under the age of 6 can live with their imprisoned mothers. However, it is concerned that the best interests of the child are not always taken into account, including when sentencing parents, that incarcerated parents are not guaranteed systematic contact with their children and the Children Development Unit, and that there is insufficient psychological treatment or social support to children of incarcerated parents who do not reside in institutional care (para.47).
Children with disabilities:
The Committee is particularly concerned that: The State party has not undertaken adequate measures to build an inclusive system of education and continue to over rely on non-governmental organizations to provide specialized services to these children, and to prevent placement of children with disabilities in “Centres de sauvegarde”; Children with disabilities attending schools face rejection and stigmatisation; The vast majority of children with disabilities do not benefit from adequate support, such as the presence of a multidisciplinary specialized team, social workers, and an individual follow-up process to ensure their effective inclusion in ordinary classes, and that social stigma fears and misconceptions surrounding children with disabilities remain strong in society, leading to the marginalization and alienation of these children; Children with disabilities do not often acquire Certificate of Primary Education and that there are no alternatives to Certificate of Primary Education for children with mental disabilities; Children with disabilities who are placed in shelters because they are abandoned, orphaned and homeless often do not receive special care or psychological support; The statistics on children suffering from specific disabilities are not regularly accessible (para.49).
The Committee is however concerned about the prevailing maternal malnutrition and inadequate prenatal care which are considered to be primary causes of low birth weight among babies. The Committee is also concerned about the very limited measures to treat hepatitis C cases (para.51).
The Committee is concerned about the limited impact of the sexual and reproductive health education and the absence of the drug awareness sessions in the curriculum (para.53).
The Committee is concerned about the limited effectiveness of the measures to reduce the mother-to-child transmission and the continued inadequate awareness about HIV/AIDS that leads to stigma and discriminatory attitudes against those infected and affected. The Committee is also concerned about reports that children need to be accompanied by an adult to have access to health services that is discriminatory against children living with HIV (para.55).
The Committee notes with concern that policies and programmes addressing climate change and disaster risk management, such as in the case of cyclones, do not address special vulnerabilities and needs of children, and that available data to formulate policies do not identify the types of risks faced by children (para.57).
Standard of living:
The Committee is concerned the child care services such as meals, payment of transport and school fees for children, the Committee reiterates its concern about the living conditions of children from disadvantaged and marginalised families particularly with regard to access to adequate housing, education, and health-care services (para.59).
The Committee is concerned that children who lack birth registration might be prevented from accessing education. The Committee is concerned that schools are not adequately supplemented by educational materials in Creole which remains an optional language, thereby limiting access to education for Creole speaking children and result in high drop-out rates which amount to 20 per cent in primary education. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the limited access to vocational training in particular in rural areas by children who dropped out of school, the lack of adequate financial resources for early childhood education, and the lack of human rights education in the school curriculum (para.61).
The Committee is concerned that some children below the age of 18 work in dangerous conditions, among others, in agriculture, street vending and domestic service (para.63).
The Committee is concerned that the State party remains a country of source, destination and transit for trafficking in persons including children. The Committee is also concerned at the absence of sex-disaggregated data with regard to trafficking as well as the lack of a national plan of action to address trafficking in the State party (para.65).
The Committee is concerned at reports according to which thousands of children are in street situations, most of them aged 11 to 16 years, the gravity or even the existence of which is not adequately recognized, thereby limiting their protection (para.67).
The Committee is concerned at reports according to which thousands of children are in street situations, most of them aged 11 to 16 years, the gravity or even the existence of which is not adequately recognized, thereby limiting their protection (para.69).