The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined sixth and seventh periodic report of Mauritius, commending the State on the new legislation on children which had been implemented, while asking questions about teenage pregnancy and how children were educated on climate change.
Faith Marshall-Harris, Committee Vice Chair and Coordinator of the Taskforce for Mauritius, warmly commended Mauritius on the new legislation, particularly the recent ban on corporal punishment which was a great achievement. The Committee was very happy with the three new pieces of legislation discussed in the opening statement.
Aissatou Alassane Sidikou, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Mauritius, asked what measures had been taken to ensure respect for Government policies concerning the rights of pregnant school pupils and teenage mothers? What special measures were taken for young mothers still attending school? Were they given time for breast feeding, and did they have access to day care facilities close to schools?
Gehad Madi, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Mauritius, asked if climate change was included in school curricula? Were children consulted on the strategy regarding climate change? Mikiko Otani, Committee Chair, noted that Mauritius had an Environmental Protection Act 2022. What was the synergy between this act and the new climate change bill?
The delegation said pregnant teenage mothers could continue with their schooling and were provided with spaces for breastfeeding. When these teenagers returned to school, arrangements were made with the Ministry of Education to provide support for the mothers. Students were encouraged to attend school until delivery time, and an education psychologist was provided upon request. Non-governmental organizations also worked with the Ministry to address the situation of teenage pregnancies.
The Climate Change Act had already been passed, the delegation said, and the views of children had been taken into account. Mauritius had a national, multi-hazard alert system which was being implemented and was expected to be finalised in June 2023. There was collaboration between the Ministries of Education and Environment to promote an environment culture among school populations. The Ministry of Environment had also developed a master secondary school environment charter, with the goal to bring about a change in mindset, encouraging students to adopt best practices in relation to the environment.
Introducing the report, Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare of Mauritius and head of the delegation, said the Government of Mauritius had provided for several budgetary measures to relieve those who had been most affected by global challenges, including the elderly, women and children. According to the Children’s Act 2020, a child was defined as a person under the age of 18, without any derogation, and child marriage was also prohibited under the act, with the Civil Code amended accordingly. A general prohibition against corporal punishment was provided under the act to further support efforts to eliminate violence against children. The Government was working in collaboration with stakeholders on establishing a common data platform to provide disaggregated data. Ms. Koonjoo-Shah said Mauritius looked forward to the support of the international community in the direction of further protecting and empowering children.
In closing remarks, Ms. Marshall-Harris said it was a pleasure to be a part of the dialogue and commended the State on significant progress being made on children’s rights, including the emphasis on education. However, there were still some aspects which needed improvement. Ms. Marshall-Harris thanked the delegation for all it had done.
Ms. Koonjoo-Shah thanked the Committee for being the partners of Mauritius in the noble journey to create the best possible future for the children of Mauritius. The Committee’s views would contribute to further thinking on how to empower children and ensure their welfare. Mauritius was ready and committed to move forward.
The delegation of Mauritius consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare; the Attorney General’s Office; and the Permanent Mission of Mauritius to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue concluding observations on the report of Mauritius at the end of its ninety-second session on 3 February.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).