1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, to London and Paris.
At a meeting of the Inner Temple’s Bench Table on 3 March 2011, the Prime Minister was unanimously elected as an Overseas Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. The Prime Minister received the Overseas Bencher Award on 28 July 2011 at the Trinity Term Call Night in the Temple Church. This is the greatest honour that the Inn bestows on its overseas members who have attained distinction in legal and public life within their home jurisdiction, and it is the first time that the distinction is being conferred upon a Citizen of Mauritius.
In London, the Prime Minister also had –
(a) a working session with Mr Philippe Sands, QC, with whom he reviewed recent developments in the proceedings entered by Mauritius under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and, in particular, developments relating to the challenge of Judge Christopher Greenwood by Mauritius;
(b) a working session with The Right Honourable The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, President of the UK Supreme Court, and The Right Honourable The Lord Hope of Craighead, Kt, Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court. Both Judges, who expressed their satisfaction at the continuing relationship between Mauritius and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, stated that the Judicial Committee would be pleased to sit again in Mauritius; and
(c) a meeting with Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, on issues surrounding the application of Mauritius of the Eastern and Southern Africa – European Commission Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, negotiations for the conclusion of a full and comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU, and piracy in the Indian Ocean. Baroness Ashton agreed to look into the issues raised by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also attended the signing ceremony of the Agreement between the Government of Mauritius, the Mauritius International Arbitration Center Ltd (MIAC) and the London Court of International Arbitration establishing Mauritius as a venue for international arbitration. The MIAC is a Mauritian limited liability company, wholly-owned by Government and established solely for the purpose of operating an arbitration centre in Mauritius.
In Paris, the Prime Minister, in his capacity as current Chairperson of the Indian Ocean Commission, had a meeting with Mr Philippe Leyssene, Ambassadeur et Délégué à la Coopération Régionale and Mrs B. Lederle, Counsellor at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with whom he discussed matters relating to regional cooperation in general and, in particular, the role of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as well as the appointment of the Secretary General of the Commission in 2012, who would be a Mauritian. The discussions emphasized the need to make an optimum use of the excellent bilateral ties between Mauritius and France with a view to pushing forward the regional Agenda for the benefit of IOC Member States.
2. Cabinet has taken note that a Ministerial Committee, under the chairmanship of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment, has been set up to look into arrangements to be made so that the Père Laval pilgrimage is performed in the best conditions. The Committee would comprise the Minister of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands and the Minister of Arts and Culture.
3. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of an Agricultural Calamity Solidarity Scheme to assist small planters, registered with the Small Planters Welfare Fund, in case of natural calamities, namely drought, excessive rainfall and cyclone, causing damage to their crop production. The Scheme will, inter alia, provide assistance for the payment of fertilizer costs for crop damages above 50% and fungicides for damages between 30% and 50%.
4. Cabinet has agreed to the Legal Aid Act being amended to reflect changes in the Mauritius legal system and the society since 1974 when the law was made, and to enhance access to justice to the poorest members of the society on the basis of the recommendations contained in the Green Paper prepared by Prof. V.P. Torul and comments made by all stakeholders thereon.
5. Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Education and Human Resources will promulgate the Early Childhood Care and Education Authority (Registration of Pre-Primary Schools) Regulations with a view to revising current regulations governing registration, control and supervision of pre-primary schools and extending their scope to cover child minding services.
6. Cabinet has agreed to the Third, Fourth and Fifth Combined Periodic Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child being submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Report, inter alia, provides observations on the comments made by the Committee on the Second Periodic Report and lays down the measures taken by Government to implement the provision of the Articles of the Convention. In the light of action initiated to combat child prostitution, Mauritius, which was placed in tier 2 in the Watch List category of the United States Trafficking in Persons Report 2005, has progressed to tier 1 in 2009. Moreover, the Government of Mauritius emerged as the most child-friendly Government in Africa.
7. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions would, shortly, mount a second Training Programme for Carers leading to the “National Certificate for Care of the Elderly and Disabled” (Level 3). The objective of the Training Programme is to constitute a pool of trained carers to provide care to the elderly, as well as persons with disabilities. The Programme covers health issues, as well as social and home-based care to the elderly and the disabled. The “National Certificate for Care of the Elderly and Disabled” is accredited by the Mauritius Qualifications Authority. In the first Training Programme, 43 trainees completed the course successfully and were awarded certificates.
8. Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare would promulgate the Child Protection (Mentoring Order) Regulations to provide for the Application Form for a Mentoring Order and the Mentoring Order respectively. The main objective of the Child Mentoring Scheme is to support children, aged between 10 and 16 years, suffering from mild behavioural problems with their emotional and social development.
9. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius signing the Agreement on the Regional Contingency Plan for Preparedness for and Response to Major Marine Pollution Incidents in the Western Indian Ocean. The Plan provides for the setting up of a Regional Coordination Centre with a view to strengthening the capacities of signatory States in the Western Indian Ocean region to better respond to marine pollution incidents, promoting dialogue, exchanging information, ensuring the smooth implementation of the project and developing cooperation with other similar centres and the International Maritime Organisation.
10. Cabinet has taken note that Bras d’Eau and Mare Sarcelles Reserves have been proclaimed as one National Park under the Wildlife and National Parks Act with a view to further protecting the reserves, which are habitats of a number of species of birds, such as the cave swiflets (Petite Hirondelle), the Mauritius grey white eye birds (Picpic), and the Flycatcher, a critically endangered endemic bird, and harbour a native orchid, the Onnelia Aphrodite. The Park would, henceforth, be known as Bras d’Eau National Park.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the main findings and recommendations of a Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey Report on Female Sex Workers conducted in Mauritius in August 2010 by Dr Lisa Johnston, Consultant from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
The main findings of the Survey are, inter alia, –
(a) more than 50% of female sex workers are within the age group of 20 to 34 years;
(b) 38.9% of female sex workers are married and 43.9% single;
(c) 81.9% of female sex workers rely exclusively on sex work;
(d) 73.5% of respondents consume alcohol, 28.3% take (illegal) non-injecting drugs and 37.4% (illegal) injecting drugs;
(e) 60.3 % of respondents reported ever having an HIV test; and
(f) 28.9% of the female sex workers have HIV infection.
The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has already initiated measures to implement the recommendations contained in the Report pertaining to HIV and Hepatitis prevention and management.
12. Cabinet has taken note of additional measures taken by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to reduce the number of cases of gastroenteritis, particularly, the mounting of an aggressive sensitization campaign on precautionary measures to be taken by the public.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security to Mozambique where he participated in the Twelfth ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar. The theme of the Conference was “Prospects for ACP in the light of changing global market trends”. The main topics discussed at the Conference are –
(a) prospects for the EU Sugar Regime under the current conditions and vision for the future;
(b) Global Market Outlook Opportunities and threats in the sugar sector;
(c) promoting competitiveness of ACP sugar industries; and
(d) ACP strategies for managing the challenges of the reform.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology to Tanzania where he participated in the Third Conference of the Africa Council for Distance Education. The Council is a continental educational organization comprising African universities and other higher education institutions, which are committed to expanding access to quality education and training through Open and Distance Learning. The theme for the 2011 Conference was "Bridging the Development Gap in Africa through Open and Distance Learning".
In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology had meetings, interalia, with –
(a) Professor Kanwar, Vice-President, Commonwealth of Learning, who has agreed to provide support for the setting up of the Open University of Mauritius; and
(b) Professor Jegede, Secretary General, Association of African Universities, who will help Mauritius harmonize qualifications to enable credit exchange.