The Mauritius III Action is dedicated to empowering Mauritian national authorities in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting cases of human trafficking, by leveraging European, regional and local expertise.
Despite its political and economic stability, and the efforts undertaken, the country encounters difficulties in tackling irregular migration and human trafficking. It is in this context that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Mauritius requested MIEUX+ support to strengthen the capacities of its national authorities in the area of identification, referral, investigation and prosecution of such cases.
Throughout the project, special emphasis has been placed on male victims. Indeed, men are often overlooked in the context of human trafficking, although they represent a significant portion of victims in the country.
Why is the holistic approach important?
The Action's objective is to strengthen Mauritius’ response to combat human trafficking by improving the overall inter-institutional coordination. Together with the MIEUX+ partners, the project team has adopted a holistic approach, involving key stakeholders involved in combatting Trafficking in Human Beings in the country.
The Mauritius Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Ministry of Labour, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, and Civil Society Organisations, to name a few, have all participated actively throughout the project.
Moreover, MIEUX+ took a holistic approach when it comes to the expertise deployed, by collaborating with European, regional and local experts, who bring in different perspectives and experiences.
Accomplishments so far: drafting of Standard Operating Procedures
Back in 2021, the MIEUX+ team and experts travelled to Port Louis and conducted a capacity and training needs assessment. One of the key moments was a visit to a shelter, that welcomes and protects male adult victims of human trafficking. Based on these onsite meetings, the team drafted a report, that served as a starting point for the development of the Standard Operating Procedures.
To ensure ownership of the new tools, a series of participative workshops were organised with partners, to discuss on one hand the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases via increased collaboration and proactive and reactive investigation; and on the other hand on the management of shelters for male adult victims by building on lessons learnt.
Involving Mauritian Judges’ skills
When it comes to combatting human trafficking, judges cannot be overlooked. Expanding upon the results and recommendations of the workshops, the Action also put emphasis on the role of Mauritian magistrates. The team arranged an online workshop for Mauritian judiciary officers in July 2023.
This activity aimed at developing the capacities of Mauritian judges to hear and decide on cases that came under their remit. Thanks to the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), the session consisted in part of a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange with Justice Okalany from Uganda, who presented challenges and lessons learnt from her country and the bench book developed with the IAWJ.
The rest of the session was dedicated to practical discussions of a real Mauritian human trafficking case. Following an overview of trafficking in persons, including a reflection on the principles of the crime and the legal framework, the event continued with the analysis of the case study, which enable the audience to identify the challenges and suggest good practices.
The Standard Operating Procedures are currently being finalised and will serve as a basis for the next activity, a training session scheduled for later this year in Port Louis. Involving trainers and participants from the Mauritius Police Force and the ODPP, this final activity will provide an opportunity to contemplate how to effectively train civil servants in implementing the SOPs and ensuring their long-term viability.