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Mauritius

I. Introduction

As of August 21, 2020, Mauritius had recorded 346 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths.[1] It appears that Mauritius is relying on existing law, specifically the Information and Communication Technologies Act of 2001, to deal with the spread of misinformation and falsehoods relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

II. Freedom of Expression

The Mauritius Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, stating that “[e]xcept with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”[2] The same provision, using broad language, allows for the restriction of the right to freedom of expression, including in the interest of public health and safety, stating that

[n]othing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision

a. in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;

b. for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons or the private lives of persons concerned in legal proceedings, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts, or regulating the technical administration or the technical operation of telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting, television, public exhibitions or public entertainments; or

c. for the imposition of restrictions upon public officers, except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under its authority is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.[3]

III.  Information and Communication Technologies Act

As noted above, it appears that Mauritius is relying on the 2001 Information and Communications Technologies Act to deal with the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. The offenses section of the Act provides that “anyone who . . . knowingly provides information which is false or fabricated . . . shall commit an offence.”[4] A person convicted under this provision is liable to a fine not exceeding 1 million Mauritius Rupees (around US$25,205) and a penal servitude not exceeding ten years.[5]

According to a news report dated May 11, 2020, a man was arrested for violation of this Act for allegedly falsely claiming “that riots had erupted after the prime minister announced the closure of supermarkets and shops.”[6]

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Prepared by Hanibal Goitom
Chief, FCIL I
September 2020


[1] Mauritius: Coronavirus Cases, Worldometer (last updated Aug. 21, 2020), https://perma.cc/9HVQ-DYDS.  

[2] Mauritius Constitution of 1968 (as amended through 2016), § 12(1), https://perma.cc/6R78-AH82

[3] Id. § 12(2).

[4] Information and Communication Technologies Act 44 of 2001 (as amended through 2018), § 46(na), https://perma.cc/C9XG-CA6L.

[5] Id. § 47.

[6] Ashwanee Budoo, In Africa, Government Attempts to Fight Misinformation are Also Limiting Freedom of Expression, NiemanLab (May 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/Z2HN-643E.

Last Updated: 12/30/2020