From 8 to 10 April 2015, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, undertook an advocacy visit to the Republic of Mauritius. The purpose of the visit was to meet with government officials to advocate for the adoption of an access to information law in accordance with regional and international standards on access to information as embodied in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (Model Law). The Special Rapporteur was accompanied during this visit by 4 expert members of the Working Group which developed the Model Law.
During her visit, the Special Rapporteur met with several government Ministers such as: Honourable Pravind Jugnauth, Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation; Honourable Fazila Daureeawoo, Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions; Honourable Prithvirajsing Roopun, Minister of Social Integration, Empowerment and Training and Honourable Soodesh Callichurn, Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training.
The Special Rapporteur and her delegation also sat through a session of parliament after which they very briefly interacted with the Prime Minister, Honourable Anerood Jugnauth and the Speaker, Honourable S. Maya Hanoomanjee.
Other high ranking government officials met include: Justice Kheshoe P. Matadeen, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Honourable Mahen Jughroo, chief whip of Government, Honourable Nando Bodha, Acting Attorney General, Mr Dheerujall Seetulsingh, Chair of the Mauritius National Human Rights Commission, the Electoral Commission, Mr M. Irfan Abdool- Rahman, as well as several members of civil society, facilitated by the umbrella body of Non-governmental organisations, the Mauritian Council of Social Sciences (MACOSS).
An important outcome of the Special Rapporteur’s visit was the strong reiteration by all government officials of the commitment of the new government of Mauritius to the adoption of an access to information law as was in the election manifesto of the ruling party, in the Prime Minister’s speech (articulating the Government Programme for 2015 – 2019) during the first sitting of parliament on 27 January 2015. On their part, civil society intend to facilitate a national consultation to discuss the need for the adoption of an access to information law and to devise strategies to ensure that the issue remains a priority for the newly elected government. This meeting is to be organised by MACOSS in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur.
This advocacy visit is part of a three phased project funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) being implemented by the Centre for Human Rights on behalf of the Special Rapporteur. The second phase of the project, which this visit falls under, involves advocacy visits by the Special Rapporteur to 5 selected African countries with existing or proposed Bills on access to information, to meet with high-level government officials and encourage the speedy adoption of an access to information law, which conforms to the Model Law.