News on Sunday

DPP Newsletter : Mauritius is making significant efforts for the elimination of trafficking


In its July newsletter, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions elaborates on several issues like swindling, human trafficking and Artificial Intelligence.  Anusha Rawoah, the Senior State Counsel, sheds light on human trafficking in the context of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. She states that in 2009, the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act (the ‘Act’) was passed in Mauritius to give effect to the United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons (‘the Palermo Protocol’). “The offence of trafficking in persons is punishable under the Act by a penal servitude for a term not exceeding 15 years. Human trafficking is very often misunderstood as it may be invisible and insidious. Many myths and misconceptions exist. Despite a term that seems to connote movement, at the heart of the phenomenon of ‘trafficking in persons’ are the many forms of compelled service. As such there are several types of acts which fall into the category of human trafficking: Sex trafficking / prostitution, forced labour, forced child labour, involuntary domestic servitude.”

She further explains that people don’t necessarily have to be transported across borders for trafficking to take place. She clears the misconception and avers that people can be trafficked for many different forms of exploitation such as forced prostitution, forced labour, forced begging, forced criminality, domestic servitude, forced marriage, and forced organ removal. “Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations. Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.”

Additionally, the Senior State Counsel utters that the US Report on Trafficking in Persons for the year 2019 states that Mauritius is making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. “The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, for instance by identifying and assisting more trafficking victims, including for both forced labour and sex trafficking; delicensing and referring several labour recruitment companies for criminal investigation; increasing labour inspections of migrant worker employment sites; increasing educational sessions on migrant worker rights; and increasing efforts to address passport seizure, including returning passports to migrant workers and referring perpetrators for criminal investigation.” 

Artificial Intelligence 

Another part of the newsletter focuses on whether Artificial Intelligence is the new weapon against money laundering. This article has been written by the Legal Research Officer Artee Gunness Angad. She avers that one breakthrough is Artificial Intelligence. “The easy and swift movement of money around the world through technological innovations has unfortunately led to an increase in financial crimes. Financial crimes have over the past years become a big area of concern to governments worldwide. They have often been cited as being a substantial threat to the development and stability of an economy. According to a report by Refinitiv, financial crimes cost the global economy around USD 2.4 trillion each year.”

She adds that money laundering has been constantly making “the buzz” for the wrong reasons globally and Mauritius is no exception with an increase in the number of money laundering cases in the last few years. “In fact last month only we have witnessed the dismantling of a money laundering network by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Money laundering is the process of disguising the illegal origin of criminal proceeds and integrating it into the financial system, making it appear to have been derived from a legitimate source.” 

Swindling case explained 

In this issue, the ODPP video is based on a recent Supreme Court judgment dealing with the offence of ‘swindling’. Mrs Audrey Sunglee, Senior State Counsel refers to scam case in 2008 involving Mrs Anne who got three years of imprisonment. 

“Mrs Anne had met three ladies and made them believe that she can help them to migrate to France as well as help them to get jobs. The three ladies gave her Rs 30,000, Rs 24,000 and Rs 48,000.  Mrs Anne did not accept and made an appeal. She stated that the money she took was because she was in financial difficulty.” However, the judges of the Supreme Court maintained the decision of the Intermediate Court. 

The Senior State Counsel highlights the section 330 (1) of the Criminal Code, which states that “Any person who by using fictitious name or assuming a false character or by employing fraudulent pretenses, to establish the belief of existence of any fictitious operation or of any imaginary power or credit or to create the expectation or apprehension of any success, accident or other chimerical event, obtains the remittance or delivery of any funds…” The penal servitude is for a term not exceeding 20 years, and by a fine not exceeding 150,000. 

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