Mauritius 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Port Louis does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PORT LOUIS AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC's Mauritius-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Mauritius is one of the safest countries in the region for resident and visiting Americans.

Crime Threats

Crime rates have remained relatively flat in recent years. Crime in Port Louis (population of approximately 150,000) remains lower than in most U.S. cities of similar size. Port Louis and the areas of Flic en Flac, Grand Baie, or any place frequented by tourists are likely to have higher petty crime rates, especially at night. The crime rate on the rest of the island is generally lower than in Port Louis. Most criminal activity directed against foreigners is non-violent. Neither Americans nor foreigners, generally, are known to be singled out for criminal activity but may become targets of opportunity. Crimes are predominantly motivated by economics (pickpocketing, purse snatchings, petty thefts) and often occur in crowded outdoor shopping areas, including areas that cater to the robust tourist industry, and have occurred near ATMs. Tourists should be alert for petty scams by street venders and inflated tourist prices in markets.

Violent crimes (serious assaults, murder, rape) occur, but are uncommon in Mauritius when compared to other African countries. Violent crime involving tourists or business travelers is not common. Women walking by themselves may be at greater risk for verbal harassment and criminal targeting, including groping and other forms of sexual assault.

Public beaches are generally safe and often crowded on weekends and holidays. Thefts do occur. While all beaches are public by law, hotel beaches are accessed mainly by guests.

Hotel room thefts can occur. Residential break-ins occur with some frequency, but most burglars are keen to avoid confrontation, and break-ins do not typically involve violence. However, some burglars have brandished weapons (knives, machetes) when confronted.

Mauritian economic success over the last several decades has come from the establishment of offshore banking and financial services sectors. Mauritius is a low-tax, high ease of doing business jurisdiction that markets itself as a platform for investment in Africa. While relatively well-regulated, there are some concerns that the financial sector could be used to launder financing for terrorists and transnational criminal organizations as more traditional illicit routings come under tighter control.

Cybersecurity Issues

Instances of serious cybercrimes are low. The Mauritius Police Force (MPF) has a capable Cyber Crime Unit, which has received U.S. government training. Organized hacking operations by indigenous criminal groups are very limited, although the extent of hacking operations conducted by external actors is unknown.

Police have disrupted a handful of ATM skimming operations. Most of these have been detected before ATM users sustained loses.

Other Areas of Concern

Individuals should exercise caution when walking alone at night outside hotel grounds and in unknown areas. It is not common for people, especially foreigners, to walk alone in urban areas after dark. Most shops and businesses are closed by 1700 weekdays and by 1300 on Sundays.

Prostitution and drug activity are prevalent in downtown Port Louis and in tourist areas after dark.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Mauritius and the U.S. have a driver's license reciprocity convention in place, allowing visitors to operate a motor vehicle with a valid driver's license. Motor vehicles are right-side drive, and traffic moves on the left side. The use of turn indicators does not always follow international conventions. Roads are generally narrow with cars commonly parked in the roadway, making traffic accidents a constant concern. Most streets outside of the capital are two lane roads. Truck and bus traffic is heavy, and safe passing opportunities can be few (though that does not stop vehicles from passing).

Poor civil planning adds another complex variable to the driving experience. The vast majority of roads predate automobile traffic. They can be very narrow and generally have deep unmarked open gutters or walls/hedges line them instead of a shoulder, resulting in no visibility and no room to maneuver. Construction crews often do not provide adequate advanced notice of lane/road closures, and it is common for traffic traveling in both directions to be funneled to a single lane without traffic controls.

Sidewalks are not common outside of urban centers, and there is often little/no shoulder for vehicles. Despite this, animals, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorbikes regularly use these limited shoulders and pose safety hazards to vehicular traffic. Sidewalks are overcrowded, and pedestrians often walk in the streets, competing for space with vehicles.

Traffic in Port Louis is very heavy on weekdays during the main commuting hours and often congested throughout the day. Motorcycles and scooters move between and around traffic, often disregarding traffic laws. Motorcycles and scooters should pass in the far right lane, but they commonly drive in between lanes and pass on the left.

Driving at night brings additional challenges. Street lighting is poor, and in many locations there is no lighting. Headlight use varies; it is common to see cars with no lights or constantly running high beams, either scenario making it difficult for oncoming traffic to see. Motorcyclists must wear reflective safety vests at night.

Collisions among vehicles, motorcycles/scooters and/or pedestrians are frequent and, when combined with the higher speeds on country roads, can be serious. Motorists must have auto insurance. Host country laws regarding vehicle accidents allow motorists involved in an accident where no injury has occurred to exchange information and report details to the authorities. For minor accidents that meet certain criteria (i.e. no injuries and no third party property damage, etc.), motorists may choose to come to a mutual agreement with the other parties involved. This legal remedy is often encouraged by law enforcement and can be handled by completing the Constat a l'Amiable (Friendly Agreement). However, for foreigners involved in vehicular accidents it is recommended to not move the vehicle from the accident and to request local law enforcement to assist. If an individual involved in a motor accident is in fear of personal safety, s/he may depart the area but should proceed immediately to the nearest police station to report the incident. Motorists involved in more serious accidents are encouraged to not admit fault (insurance companies and/or courts will decide fault) and only to sign statements to the police that the motorist has written in their own words.

Police enforce traffic laws randomly. Typical enforcement focuses on making sure that all vehicles have the appropriate registration and insurance stickers on their vehicle. Speed traps are set up around construction, towns, and city speed zones. Police personnel wear official uniforms and use clearly identifiable police vehicles at speed traps and check points. Numerous fixed and portable speed cameras are in use, but they are always preceded by clearly marked signs. Police have also increased the use of DUI checkpoints as part of a campaign to reduce drunk-driving related accidents.

Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council