The government maintained overall victim protection efforts, but those related to adult trafficking victims remained inadequate. The government identified six potential victims, compared with 18 victims identified in 2020 and six in 2019. Of the six victims identified, all were victims of sex trafficking; two were adults, and four were children; and five were Mauritian nationals, while one was a foreign national from Bangladesh. For the second consecutive year, the government did not report identifying any adult victims of labor trafficking, despite migrant workers’ continued vulnerability to trafficking. The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development, and Family Welfare’s (MWFWCD’s) Child Development Unit (CDU) systematically employed standard identification and referral procedures for child trafficking victims; however, the government continued to lack standard identification and referral procedures for adult trafficking victims. The absence of standard procedures for adult trafficking victims led to ad hoc assistance, a lack of victim-centered approaches, and potential re-traumatization of victims. The government provided medical assistance and counseling to the four child victims identified in 2021 and referred the two adult victims to NGO- run services. The government continued to operate a shelter for female child sex trafficking victims that could host up to 32 children. Officials reported providing services to 23 children at the shelter, compared with 34 children during the previous reporting period. The government allocated 13.2 million Mauritian rupees ($301,710) to the shelter in 2021, compared with 11 million rupees ($251,430) in 2020. An international organization reported partnering with the government to repatriate at least five foreign victims identified in previous reporting periods. The MPF in Vacoas continued to oversee the country’s only trafficking- specific adult shelter; while the shelter was dedicated to male victims, police reportedly allowed for the accommodation of female victims on an ad hoc basis. The government, in partnership with an international organization, began renovations to the shelter. Despite remaining operational during the renovations, the government has not reported assisting any victims at the shelter since it opened in 2019. In practice, the government referred adult female victims to NGO-run shelters for victims of domestic violence or adults involved in commercial sex with drug addictions, where the NGOs provided shelter, medical assistance, and psychosocial services. The government continued to require some adult foreign victims to participate in investigations, denying their requests for repatriation; observers reported police sometimes held victims’ passports until completion of the investigation. Due to a lack of formal identification procedures and gaps in understanding of human trafficking among some law enforcement officers, authorities may have detained, arrested, and deported some unidentified trafficking victims, particularly women involved in commercial sex or foreign nationals who had overstayed their visas.
The 2009 anti-trafficking law provided victims limited legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they would face hardship. The law authorized the Minister of Home Affairs to allow a foreign trafficking victim to remain in the country for up to 42 days before deportation and to issue a temporary residence permit if the victim agreed to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of the trafficking case. The law also separately allowed the Minister of Home Affairs to extend the trafficking victim’s permit on humanitarian grounds. The Ministry of Home Affairs did not report issuing any such permits during the reporting period. Since July 2021, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) was able to grant migrant workers a “special open permit” to allow victims to continue working in Mauritius during ongoing trafficking investigations; the government provided one “special open permit” during the year. The government lacked formal policies and procedures to provide protective services for and encourage trafficking victims’ participation in investigations and prosecutions, and there was no witness protection program for victims. Courts reportedly allowed victims to provide testimony via video or written statement, and if a victim was a witness in a court case against a former employer, they could obtain employment, move freely within the country, or leave the country pending trial proceedings; however, in practice, government officials expected victims to testify against their trafficker in-person. The anti-trafficking law allowed the courts to award a victim up to 500,000 rupees ($11,430) in restitution from the convicted trafficker; however, courts did not award restitution to victims. The law also allowed victims to file civil suits against their alleged traffickers for compensation for damages exceeding the amount of restitution awarded during criminal proceedings; however, civil suits could be prohibitively expensive and lengthy, and no victims filed such suits.