The government maintained efforts to identify and protect victims of sex and labor trafficking, but the availability of services for adult trafficking victims remained lacking. In 2017, the government identified five trafficking victims (three child sex trafficking and two adult labor trafficking), compared with 11 victims in 2016. The government referred all victims to assistance and provided shelter, food, medical care, and arranged contact with an international organization. The government did not assist or facilitate the repatriation of any trafficking victims during the reporting period. An NGO identified at least three victims of child sex trafficking in 2017. The Child Development Unit of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development, and Family Welfare continued to employ the standard referral procedure after identifying child trafficking victims. The government continued the operation of a shelter for girls exploited in sex trafficking, but did not report how many children it assisted during the reporting period. Child victims could leave the shelter to attend school and received medical and psychological assistance. The government continued to provide funding for several anti-trafficking NGOs, several NGO-run daycare centers for trafficking victims, and continued to fund a drop-in center, operated by a local NGO, for trafficking victims.
There were no standard identification and referral procedures for adult sex or labor trafficking victims, nor was there a clear government agency responsible for assisting adult sex trafficking victims. There was neither specialized shelter, nor systematic provision of medical, psychological, or financial assistance for adult trafficking victims; however, there were at least three NGO-run shelters female victims could utilize, but there were no shelters available for men. The Passport and Immigration Authorities (PIO) continued to conduct raids to identify foreign persons with expired visas and during the raids, PIO officers would also proactively screen migrant workers to identify potential labor trafficking victims. The government reported screening 194 migrant workers during the reporting period, and while last reporting period, the PIO identified eight labor trafficking victims, it did not report identifying any trafficking victims this reporting period. There were no reports the government arrested or punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. However, due to the lack of identification measures and gaps in understanding of human trafficking among some law enforcement officers, some adult victims of forced prostitution and forced labor may have been penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. For example, police officers generally did not screen women in prostitution for trafficking indicators. Contrastingly, immigration control at ports and the airport reportedly did screen for women who may be trafficking victims or in prostitution and turned back 287 persons after questioning them and checking an INTERPOL database. During the reporting period, immigration officials continued to regularly turn back single Malagasy women, traveling on their own, with less than 4,200 Mauritian rupees ($130) who attempted to enter the country on tourist visas on the grounds that they might be coming to Mauritius to engage in prostitution.
An NGO reported that not all migrant workers had freedom of movement beyond work hours and many employers provide housing facilities that were comparable to compounds with fences and security guards. The 2009 anti-trafficking law provided victims limited legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face hardship. The law allowed the Minister of Home Affairs to decide to allow a trafficking victim to remain in the country for up to 42 days before deportation, and could issue a temporary residence permit, but only if the victim agreed to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of the trafficking case. The law allowed the Minister of Home Affairs to extend the trafficking victim’s permit on humanitarian grounds. Despite these protection provisions, in previous reporting periods, the government continued to deport some trafficking victims. The government generally encouraged, but did not require, victim cooperation in investigations and prosecutions; however, without cooperation, there is no basis under the law for a foreign victim to remain in the country. The law allowed victims to file civil suits against their alleged traffickers for restitution; however, civil suits could be prohibitively expensive and lengthy. There were no reports trafficking victims filed any civil suits during the reporting period. An NGO reported that some companies in Mauritius actively deterred and prevented migrant workers from petitioning for their rights and some companies used informants to expose the leaders of potential protests and subsequently canceled their contracts and deported them. The government did not report efforts to address these abuses by employment agencies. The anti-trafficking law allowed the court to award the victim up to 500,000 Mauritian rupees ($14,970) in compensation from the convicted; however, the government did not award any compensation to victims during the reporting period. In an effort to encourage cooperation, victims and witnesses could request police protection by contacting their local police.