PR Political Rights 35 40
CL Civil Liberties 50 60
Last Year's Score & Status
86 100 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 elections. Civil liberties have historically been upheld, but political leadership remains dominated by a few families and ethnic divisions are increasingly prominent in politics. Corruption is a problem, electoral reforms encouraged by the African Union have not been enacted, and court challenges to electoral results have increased. Journalists report limitations on their work and occasional harassment, integration of women into the political system has been slow, and LGBT+ people face threats and discrimination.

header2 Key Developments in 2022

  • In April 2022 Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth postponed municipal elections, scheduling them for June 2023. Jugnauth cited COVID-19-related concerns, even as most other COVID-19 restrictions were being eased. The elections were originally scheduled for June 2021.
  • Mauritius Telecom chief executive Sherry Singh, a longtime ally of Prime Minister Jugnauth, resigned in June, accusing Jugnauth of asking him to allow a third party to install equipment to monitor internet traffic in violation of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Act. Ashok Radhakissoon, the former president of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA), expressed concerns about illegal data collection at a cable station.
  • In February, Mauritius announced that it was claiming sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and called for the return of Chagossian refugees to the islands. Britain initially refuted Mauritius’s claim, but in November the British Foreign Secretary stated that he expected the two countries would reach an agreement in early 2023. The UN General Assembly and the International Criminal Court had both backed the Mauritian claim in 2019.

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. Pritivirajsing Roopun, a lawmaker from the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), was elected president in December 2019, following the previous month’s parliamentary elections.

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. Pravind Jugnauth of the MSM, who succeeded his father as prime minister when the latter stepped down in 2017, continued to serve in the role after MSM’s success in the 2019 elections. The Mauritian Supreme Court considered the electoral results generally credible, but continued to hear challenges to results throughout 2022, with mixed outcomes. In its 2019 election observer report, the African Union concluded that elections “were peacefully and professionally conducted,” but listed recommendations including reforming political party and candidate finance law, enacting laws designed to increase the number of woman candidates, increasing the participation of civil society in elections, and updating procedures for ballot counting. As of 2022 these changes have not been instituted.

The MSM government indefinitely suspended municipal elections scheduled for June 2021 through the Local Government (Amendment) Act 2021. In April 2022, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth postponed municipal elections again, this time until June 2023. Jugnauth cited COVID-19 health concerns, despite the simultaneous easing of most COVID-19 restrictions.

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 in 21 constituencies. The MSM’s Morisian Alliance won 42 seats in the November 2019 National Assembly elections. In its January 2022 report, Afrobarometer reported that 59 percent of Mauritians said that the last elections were free and fair but had problems, including 44 percent who felt that votes were not accurately counted or not fairly reflected in the results.

Rodrigues, an autonomous territory of Mauritius, held elections in March 2022. The Rodrigues People's Organisation (OPR) party was unseated in favor of an “Alliances of Alliances” coalition. Some commentators viewed the election as a shift towards coalition politics and more fragmented political parties.

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? 3.003 4.004

The Electoral Supervisory Commission is broadly viewed as impartially supervising the electoral process. There is no law on the financing of electoral campaigns. As of 2022, long-running discussions on electoral reform and party financing laws have not led to concrete action.

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.

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? 3.003 4.004

Since independence, political power has peacefully rotated among the three largest parties—the Mauritian Labor Party (PTR), the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), and the MSM. The MSM has been in power since 2014, when it defeated the PTR.

In April 2022 Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth postponed municipal elections originally scheduled for June 2021 to June 2023. As a result, the MSM maintained power in local government without a mandate. The postponement led to protests and criticism from across the political spectrum.

As of 2022, opposition leadership has struggled to create a broadly supported platform or present a political alternative to the MSM, leading to concerns about the capacity of the opposition to organize ahead of the 2024 elections. According to Afrobarometer, neither the ruling MSM nor opposition parties are trusted by a majority of the population.

Score Change: The score declined from 4 to 3 because the postponement of municipal elections for the second consecutive year, ostensibly due to public health concerns, limited the ability of the opposition to compete for power at the local level.

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 external to the political sphere. However, there is no law regulating the financing of electoral campaigns. The Jugnauth and Ramgoolam families have long-running holds on political leadership positions, which may influence intraparty politics.

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

The government officially recognizes four distinct communities: Hindus, Muslims, Sino-Mauritians, and the general population, which includes Mauritian Creoles, Franco-Mauritians, and people of African descent. Ethnic minority groups such as Rodriguais and Chagossians are considered Creole.

Women are underrepresented in politics, and only one in five legislators are women. A prohibition on same-sex sexual activity is seen as encouraging discrimination against the LGBT+ community. However, in 2022, plaintiffs challenged the law’s constitutionality in several court cases.

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 been able to make policy without interference or major political disruptions.

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

The Prevention of Corruption Act of 2002 covers most dishonest, fraudulent, and abusive governance practices but is inconsistently applied. Prime Minister Jugnauth has repeatedly come under scrutiny. In June 2022, Mauritius Telecom CEO Sherry Singh, a longtime ally of Jugnauth, resigned, accusing Jugnauth of asking him to allow a third party to install equipment to monitor internet traffic. Transparency Mauritius, an organization associated with Transparency International, condemned Jugnauth for refusing to allow an independent investigation into allegations against him. This fueled concerns in civil society about a slide towards autocracy while renewing accusations of corruption. A significant minority of international business leaders see corruption as pervasive throughout Mauritius’s government and police. According to Afrobarometer polling, nearly all Mauritians believe corruption is pervasive and involves the prime minister, members of parliament, civil servants, municipal leaders, police, and judges.

There is no legislation that provides legal protection for whistleblowers.

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, publishes it and other legislation online and in the press, and maintains a National Open Data Portal.

The Mauritian government is routinely criticized by both domestic and international analysts for not being meritocratic. International organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Transparency International, continued to raise concerns about fiscal transparency in 2022, particularly the impact it has on government services and marginalized communities.

CL Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media? 3.003 4.004

The constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Several private daily and weekly publications report on the ruling and opposition parties, but the state-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation’s radio and television services generally reflect government viewpoints. The media regulatory agency is within the executive branch and lacks independence. Its sanctions disproportionately target opposition media. Under 2018 revisions to the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Act, journalists can face prison sentences for content that causes “inconvenience, distress, or anxiety.”

D2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4.004 4.004

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.

D3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 4.004 4.004

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? 3.003 4.004

Private discussion is generally unrestricted. However, 2018 amendments to the ICTA made the online publication of material deemed false, harmful, or illegal punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Proposed amendments to the ICT Act were released in April 2021 would have created government proxy servers through which all encrypted social media traffic must pass, be decrypted, and be stored and a National Digital Ethics Committee (NDEC) in the executive branch to review social media posts and refer individuals for arrest without judicial review. While not enacted, regular concerns were raised in civil society throughout 2022 about de facto government surveillance, threat, and limitation on personal expression.

The chief executive of Mauritius Telecom resigned in July 2022 after accusing the prime minister of violating the ICT by pushing for third-party tracking. The same month, Ashok Radhakissoon, the former president of the ICTA, expressed concerns about the use of the Baie-Jacotet cable station to illegally capture data.

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 usually upheld. The government was accused of overreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were no restrictions on peaceful assembly in 2022.

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? 3.003 4.004

More than 300 unions regularly meet with government leaders, protest, and advocate for improved compensation and workers’ rights. However, the COVID-19 Act, passed in May 2020, has been criticized for limiting workers’ rights, including through reductions of additional pay for night-workers and overtime, annual days of leave, and other protections in the Workers’ Rights Act (WRA) of 2019. Despite the removal of the last COVID-19 restrictions in July 2022, the COVID-19 Act’s limitations on workers’ rights remain in place.

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 administers a legal system that combines French and British traditions. However, judicial independence has been questioned in some 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 police to charge suspects provisionally and then hold them 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 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. In 2016, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was formed to manage complaints. However, allegations of abuse by police continue.

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

Though the law and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) do not allow for discrimination in the workforce, some citizens view economic leadership as closed to ethnic minority groups. Chagossians and other ethnic minorities form an underclass, while Hindu Mauritians are more privileged, albeit within a differentiated ethnic structure with remnants of a caste system. Mauritius fervently maintains its claim to the Chagos Archipelago, but Chagossian people claim they suffer from a system of colonial exploitation.

In a 2022 study, the World Bank found that Mauritian women and girls continue to face gender-based violence, gender gaps, and disadvantageous social norms. There is a 26 percent gender gap in workforce participation, and women generally earn less money than men for equal work.

LGBT+ people face discrimination and the risk of targeted violence. While rarely invoked, laws that criminalize same-sex relations remain on the books.

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 restrictions on travel to the Chagos Archipelago. 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 relations are punishable by five years in prison. Rape is against the law, but spousal rape is not specifically criminalized. Domestic violence is illegal but remains a significant concern.

In June 2021, Mauritius added provisions to the Quarantine Act requiring all citizens be vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Penalties for violating the requirement include up to a five-year jail term.

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. In its 2022 Human Trafficking Report, the US Department of State noted a continued absence of standard operating procedures for victim identification, a lack of victim-centered approaches, lenient sentences from courts, weak deterrence, a lack of investigation of traffickers exploiting individuals for forced labor, and a lack of identification of victims of forced labor.

The position of migrant workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors can be precarious. Mauritian labor rights advocacy organizations have claimed that the government rollback of labor protection laws in response to COVID-19 led to more exploitation of migrant workers, and these laws have yet to be restored.

While Mauritius enjoys a comparatively high, and growing, gross domestic product, inequality soared during the pandemic. The World Bank has warned that failing to implement growth strategies that prioritize the poor will contribute to a significant widening of inequality through 2030. With global factors driving high inflation in 2022, particularly on food and oil prices, there are pervasive concerns that widening inequality will lead to greater economic exploitation of individuals already at the margins.

On Mauritius

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  • Global Freedom Score

    85 100 free