18 August 2020
By the end of July, Mauritius had recorded nearly 350 cases of Covid-19 as well as 10 related deaths. Mauritius began taking precautionary measures early. On 22 January, the government began screening people upon arrival at the airport and from 28 February, despite there being no confirmed cases in the country, authorities began quarantining visitors from countries with a large number of cases. In mid-March, only essential services were allowed to remain open. The situation was then relaxed from April onwards, albeit with strict controls.
On 30 April, the Construction Workers’ Union of Mauritius (CMWEU) reportedly assisted 44 unpaid and Covid-19 vulnerable Indian migrant workers employed by an Indian construction company. The workers had not received their wages for the month of March despite a government commitment to shoulder half of the workers’ salaries to ensure income security. The Indian workers said that they had not been provided with any personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they lacked money to buy toiletries, such as soap and toothpaste, for their personal hygiene.
There does not appear to be a dedicated immigration detention system in the country, nor specific legislation relating to immigration detention. However, criminal sanctions (fines and prison terms) for offences such as irregular entry or making false or misleading statements in connection with entry or exit from Mauritian territory, may be imposed. Also, according to Mauritius' response (dated 29 March 2019) to the UN Committee on Migrant Worker’s Draft General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire, there is no law or policy on the granting of refugee status or political asylum in Mauritius and attempts to treat applications for refugee status or political asylum on a case-by-case basis by facilitating their settlement in a country willing to receive them.
The GDP has been unable to find reports indicating that authorities have adopted any measures to assist migrants.
- Committee on Migrant Workers,“Response to Draft General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire,” 29 March 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CMW/Pages/GC5.aspx
- Building and Wood Workers’ International, “Mauritius: CMWEU Aids Unpaid and Covid-19-Vulnerable Workers,” 30 April 2020, https://www.bwint.org/cms/mauritius-cmweu-aids-unpaid-and-covid-19-vulnerable-workers-1807
- R. Jeeneea & K. S. Sukon, “The Mauritian Response to Covid-19: Rapid Bold Actions in the Right Direction,” Voxeu, 9 May 2020, https://voxeu.org/article/mauritian-response-covid-19
- Union Workers Bring Provisions to the 44 Unpaid and Covid-19-vulnerable Indian Migrant Workers Employed by an Indian Construction Company in Mauritius, (Building and Wood Workers' International, "Mauritius: CMWEU Aids Unpaid and Covid-19-Vulnerable Workers," 30 April 2020, https://www.bwint.org/cms/mauritius-cmweu-aids-unpaid-and-covid-19-vulnerable-workers-1807)