Mauritius: Children’s Act comes into full force

Mauritius: Children’s Act comes into full force

Date: February 1, 2022
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Port Louis, 1 February 2022: The very long  awaited Children’s Act 2020 has now come into full force as from 24 January 2022.

Gender Links (GL) congratulates Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah on this important step in the development and protection of children’s rights. Gender Links is also grateful to all  Non-Governmental Organisations, activists and the Ombudsperson for Children who have fought for the protection and the rights of our children.

The Children’s Act 2020 provides for the complete abolition of child marriage and consequently the concept of “émancipation par mariage” (emancipation through marriage), thereby repealing existing provisions of the Mauritian Civil Code providing for exceptional circumstances in which children above the age of 16 were permitted to marry. It is now also illegal for children to live in “concubinage“.[1] The aim of the act is also to bring down the number of cases of child abuse which is currentl between 5,000 to 6,000 per year.[2]

In 2021, 40 cases of child marriage were registered at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare. In a press conference on 27th January 2022,  Minister Koonjoo-Shah, said that although the law will not be retroactive, her officers will provide assistance and support to these married minors.

A clear definition of a child is included in the Act, and stipulates that a “child” is a person under the age of 18 and as such, no person shall cause or force a child to marry civilly or religiously under this age.

The Government has gone further to include two other laws to protect children of the Republic of Mauritius: the Child Sex Offender Register Act and the Children’s Court Act.

This triad of laws are in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The Children’s Court is also operational as from 24th January 2022. The Children’s Court consists of a Protection Division as well as a Criminal Division, and aims at providing the best environment for a child to depone.

The age of criminal responsibility for children has been set to 14 years, despite a lobby by certain members of parliament for this to be raised to 16 years. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has also been given the prerogative to have a juvenile offender enrolled into a diversion programme rather than being prosecuted.

The Children’s Act 2020 also makes provision to address revenge pornography, sexual abuse on children, bullying and cybercrimes on children. Children under the age of 14 shall not be prosecuted for any criminal offence. In view of the easy access of the internet, severe sanctions have been devised against cyber bullying or any other online crime.

The Children’s Act 2020, repeals the Child Protection Act of 1994-1995 and replaces and address the shortcomings of the 26 years old act with a more comprehensive and modern legislative framework.


[2] Ibid

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