Mauritius

Free
89
100
PR Political Rights 37 40
CL Civil Liberties 52 60
Last Year's Score & Status
89 100 Free
Global freedom statuses are calculated on a weighted scale. See the methodology.

header1 Overview

Mauritius is home to an open, multiparty system that has allowed for the regular handover of power between parties through free and fair elections. However, the political leadership remains dominated by a few families, corruption is a problem, and journalists occasionally face legal pressure.

header2 Key Developments in 2017

  • In January, Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth resigned and named his son, Pravind Jugnauth, as the new prime minister. The move prompted opposition protests.
  • In September, the justice minister was forced to resign after an investigation by journalists implicated him in a money laundering scheme.
  • The journalists responsible for the story implicating the justice minister in corrupt activities were arrested and detained for questioning, but ultimately released without charge.

PR Political Rights

A Electoral Process

A1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

The president, whose role is mostly ceremonial, is elected by the unicameral National Assembly to a five-year term. Executive power resides with the prime minister, who is appointed by the president from the party or coalition with the most seats in the legislature. After the 2014 general elections, Anerood Jugnauth, leader of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), was appointed to the post for his sixth nonconsecutive term since 1982. He resigned in January 2017 and named his son, Pravind Jugnauth as his replacement. The opposition decried the power handover as immoral, though it was approved by the president and considered legal under the constitution. The developments reflect the dynastic character of Mauritian politics.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was elected the country’s president in 2015, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

A2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

Of the National Assembly’s 70 members, 62 are directly elected and up to 8 “best losers” are appointed from among unsuccessful candidates who gained the largest number of votes. The members of the National Assembly serve five-year terms.

The 2014 elections took place peacefully, and stakeholders accepted the results. Mauritius’s two main political parties—former prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam’s ruling Mauritian Labour Party (PTR) and former prime minister Paul Bérenger’s Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM)—unexpectedly lost the elections to the Alliance Lepep coalition, made up of the MSM, the Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD), and the Liberation Movement (ML). The 2014 election results were widely interpreted as a reaction to Ramgoolam’s proposed constitutional reform to increase the power of the president. The Alliance Lepep won 47 of the 62 elected seats, while PTR-MMM alliance gained 13 of the elected seats. In 2016, the PMSD left the Alliance Lepep and joined the opposition.

A3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 4.004 4.004

The Electoral Supervisory Commission has impartially supervised the electoral process. There have been 10 general elections in Mauritius since the country became independent in 1968.

B Political Pluralism and Participation

B1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings? 4.004 4.004

Political parties are generally free to form and operate. Forty-five parties competed in the 2014 elections.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections? 4.004 4.004

Since independence, political power has peacefully rotated among the three largest parties—the PTR, the MSM, and the MMM.

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means? 4.004 4.004

Voters and candidates are generally able to express their political choices without pressure from actors not democratically accountable.

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, religious, gender, LGBT, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities? 3.003 4.004

The Hindu majority is viewed as maintaining most positions of political influence. Women hold a handful of cabinet seats and other high-level political positions, but are generally underrepresented in politics. Local elections require that women comprise one third of political parties’ candidates in each district.

At least two small LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups are active in Mauritius, and seek to raise visibility of LGBT issues and counter homophobia.

C Functioning of Government

C1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government? 4.004 4.004

Elected representatives are duly seated, and the government has generally been able to make policy without interference or major political disruptions. However, politics in Mauritius are dominated by a few families, with coordination among the head of the government, members of the National Assembly, and other relevant individuals. Only five different individuals have held the post of prime minister since independence in 1968.

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective? 3.003 4.004

The country’s anticorruption framework is robust, but at times inconsistently upheld. In September 2017, the justice resigned in the wake of money laundering allegations levied against him.

C3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency? 3.003 4.004

The government openly debates the country’s budget in the National Assembly and publishes it and other legislation online and in the press. In May 2017, the Minister of Technology, Communication, and Innovation announced that a National Open Data Portal was being developed to provide Mauritians with data in numerous categories. In recent years, the authorities have worked to implement other transparency initiatives, though the country still lacks a freedom of information act.

CL Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1. Are there free and independent media? 3 / 4

The constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Several private daily and weekly publications freely report on the ruling and opposition parties, but the state-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation’s radio and television services generally reflect government viewpoints. A small number of private radio stations compete with the state-run media.

Journalists occasionally face legal pressure. In 2017, three journalists were arrested in apparent connection with reporting that had implicated Justice Minister Ravi Yerrigadoo in a money laundering scheme, and ultimately forced his resignation. The journalists were detained for several hours before being released; the incident was described in the media as an attempt to intimidate them.

D2. Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4 / 4

Religious freedom is generally upheld. The government grants subsidies to Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Seventh-day Adventist communities, but not to smaller groups, though all religious groups may apply for tax-exempt status. Tensions between Muslim and Hindu communities continue to be reported. Several Hindu sites were vandalized during the year.

D3. Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 4 / 4

Academic freedom is generally upheld.

D4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution? 4.004 4.004

Private discussion is unrestricted.

E Associational and Organizational Rights

E1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly? 4.004 4.004

Freedom of assembly is generally upheld. A number of protests took place in 2017, including one in January 2017 against Anerood Jugnauth’s move to install his son, Pravind Jugnauth, as the prime minister.

E2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work? 4.004 4.004

Civil society groups operate freely. However, many are reliant upon government funding that could compromise their independence.

E3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations? 4.004 4.004

Unions regularly meet with government leaders, protest, and advocate for improved compensation and workers’ rights. There are more than 300 unions in Mauritius.

F Rule of Law

F1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary? 3.003 4.004

The generally independent judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court, administers a legal system that combines French and British traditions. The judicial system is considered transparent and nondiscriminatory. The judiciary’s independence is sometimes questioned, however, in cases involving politicians. Mauritius has maintained the right of appeal to the Privy Council in London.

F2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters? 4.004 4.004

Constitutional guarantees of due process are generally upheld. However, Mauritian criminal law allows for police to charge suspects provisionally, and then hold suspects indefinitely for months until a formal charge is issued. Due to court backlogs, many of those being held in prison are in pretrial detention, and some detainees reportedly must wait years before facing trial.

F3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies? 3.003 4.004

Mauritius is free from war and insurgencies. Allegations of abuses by police continue. A measure establishing an Independent Police Complaints Commission was passed in 2016, but the body, which was not yet in operation in 2017, is expected to have limited power to investigate police misconduct.

F4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population? 3.003 4.004

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), set up by the 2008 Equal Opportunities Act, prohibits discrimination, promotes equality of opportunity in the public and private sectors, and investigates possible cases of discrimination. Though the law and the EOC do not allow for discrimination in the workforce, some citizens view economic leadership to be closed to ethnic minorities. Women generally earn less money than men for equal work. Sodomy is a crime, but is rarely invoked as a means of punishing same-sex sexual activity.

G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights

G1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 4.004 4.004

Citizens are generally allowed to move freely within Mauritius but there are some restrictions on travel in the Chagos Islands, which are disputed between Mauritius and Great Britain. Mauritians are free to change their place of residence, employment, and education.

G2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 3.003 4.004

Mauritius is considered among the most business-friendly countries in Africa. However, the Non-Citizen Property Restriction Act limits most noncitizens from owning or acquiring property. Corruption can hamper business activity.

G3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance? 3.003 4.004

The government generally does not limit social freedoms, though same-sex unions are not recognized. Rape is against the law, but spousal rape is not specifically criminalized. Although domestic violence is against the law, it remains a significant concern.

G4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation? 2.002 4.004

Women and children are vulnerable to sex trafficking, and while the government has made some efforts to prosecute traffickers and provide services to victims, these efforts are generally inadequate. The position of migrant workers in the manufacturing and construction can be precarious, and there have been reports of employers confiscating their passports.

On Mauritius

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  • Global Freedom Score

    89 100 free