Truth Commission: Mauritius
Truth Commission: Truth and Justice Commission
Duration: February 2009-2011 (expected)
Charter: Truth and Justice Commission Act No. 28 (August 22, 2008)
Commissioners: 5 (4 male, 1 female)
Report: Not yet issued
 

Truth Commission: Truth and Justice Commission

Dates of Operation: The commission was inaugurated in February 2009. The mandate forsees a duration of two years (not including a three-month preparatory period), with the possibility of six-month extension(s) by the President.

Background: Throughout the colonial and post-colonial period, workers were abused in Mauritius. Although slavery was abolished in 1835, slavery and slavery-related practices remained very common and also continued in other forms including debt bondage or indentured labor. It is said that close to half a million people were brought to Mauritius, primarily from India, to work under conditions of slaves. Mostly these laborers were poor men, women, and children. Laborers were exploited to do hard agricultural and other work, and they were often not given sufficient food, shelter, and clothing.

In 2009, the Parliament of Mauritius decided to create a Truth and Justice Commission to examine slavery and indentured labor since the colonization of the island in 1638.

Charter: Truth and Justice Commission Act No. 28, Mauritius, adopted by the parliament on August 22, 2008.

Mandate: The Truth and Justice Commission is tasked to undertake an inquiry into the legacy of slavery and indentured labor in Mauritius. The commission also has the responsibility to determine appropriate measures to be extended to descendants of slaves and indentured laborers, and to investigate complaints of the dispossession of land. The Mauritius Truth and Justice Commission is unique in that it deals with socio-economic class abuses and attempts to cover more than 370 years (1638-present), the longest period that a truth commission has ever attempted to cover. 

Commissioners and Structure: The mandate forsees a commission of five members. The President selected four men and one woman. Four members are nationals, while the current chair, Alex Boraine, is a citizen of South Africa and the former deputy chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Robert Shell, a previous chair, stepped down. The commission has 65 support staff.

Report: The commission released its report in November 2011.

Findings:

  • The final report documents the economics of colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude, the experiences of indentured Africans, Indians, and French engagés, and living and working conditions on sugar estates.
  • To promote national reconciliation, the commission recommended 1) memorializing slavery; 2) a better understanding and more inclusive account of Mauritian history and culture; 3) a better and increased protections of Mauritian heritage; 4) a less racist and elitist society; 5) a more democratic public life, and; 6) empowerment of Mauritians of African and Malagasy origin, as well as other recommendations to increase economic and social justice, particularly related to land issues and equitable and judicious use of the environment.

Sources:

Hayner, Priscilla B. Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2011.

National Assembly of Mauritius, Second Reading of the Truth and Justice Commission Bill, August 5, 2008.

Allen, Richard B. Slaves, Freedman, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius. Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Related Publications

Security and Justice in Post-Revolution Libya

Security and Justice in Post-Revolution Libya

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By: Fiona Mangan; Christina Murtaugh with support from Ferdaouis Bagga

Three years after the death of Muammar Qaddafi and the end of the revolution in Libya, security and justice are stalled and elusive despite the proliferation of security providers. The power of the gun prevails over the rule of law. Many see no end in sight. Based on a nationwide survey and drawn from interviews and focus group sessions, this report—supported by the USIP and the Small Arms Survey—tracks security and justice in Libya from before the revolution through today, its realities, and...

Justice in Transition in Yemen

Justice in Transition in Yemen

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By: Erica Gaston with Nadwa al-Dawsari

This research is part of a three-year United States Institute of Peace (USIP) project that explores how Yemen’s rule of law and local justice and security issues have been affected in the post-Arab Spring transition period. A complement to other analytical and thematic pieces, this large-scale mapping provides data on factors influencing justice provision in half of Yemen’s governorates. Its goal is to support more responsive programming and justice sector reform. Field research was managed b...

Civil Defense Groups

Civil Defense Groups

Thursday, July 31, 2014

By: Bruce “Ossie” Oswald

More than three hundred defense groups provide security to local communities in states around the world. While it is true that such groups can be a resource-efficient means for states to provide law and order to their communities, it is also true that they can worsen security.

Women's Access to Justice in Afghanistan

Women's Access to Justice in Afghanistan

Thursday, July 17, 2014

By: Erica Gaston; Tim Luccaro

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2002, gains in women’s rights and access to justice in Afghanistan have been remarkable, yet women’s rights remain extremely limited. How do women in Afghanistan seek justice when their rights are violated? What barriers do they face in pursuing justice or receiving a fair outcome? This report draws on interviews and focus group discussions held in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 to determine answers to these and related questions and to recommend ways forward. ...

Gender

View All Publications