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July 6, 2021

Mauritius moves to tackle workplace violence and harassment

Mauritius has become the seventh country in the world, and the third African country, to ratify the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention.

By Michelle Russell

Convention No. 190 is the first international treaty to address violence and harassment in the world of work. Together with Recommendation No.206, it provides a common framework for action and a unique opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect, and underlines the right of everyone to a world free from violence and harassment.

It includes the first international definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence. The Convention applies to the public and private sectors, formal and informal economies, and urban and rural areas. It protects everyone in the world of work, irrespective of their contractual status.

In depositing the official instrument of ratification, Minister Soodesh Callichurn said: “Mauritius is proud to be one among the few countries in the world and the first one in the Indian Ocean region to ratify the present instrument allowing a world of work free from violence and harassment.

“This instrument comes at an opportune moment since we are all going through testing times due to Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of workers have been laid-off and the working ecosystem is adjusting itself in the wake of mutations arising. This ratification exercise is, therefore, a huge leap forward in terms of guaranteeing a safe environment for workers who are our main resource and who contribute immensely to the social and economic development of our country.”

The Convention requires ratifying member states to adopt, in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organisations, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment, through prevention, protection and enforcement measures and remedies, as well as guidance, training and awareness-raising. It also recognises the different and complementary roles and functions of governments, employers and workers and their respective organisations, taking into account the varying nature and extent of their responsibilities.

ILO director-general Guy Ryder, thanked the representative of the Government of Mauritius for his country’s ratification, adding: “In times of crises, such as the past 18 months where the world has been fighting to overcome and recover from a global pandemic, the risk of violence and harassment escalates. Many forms of work-related violence and harassment have been reported. Convention No. 190 will play a crucial role in shaping a human-centered response and recovery, tackling injustice and supporting the building of a better normal, free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence.”

The Violence and Harassment Convention entered into force on 25 June, with the ILO launching a global campaign calling for renewed commitment from countries to ratify and implement it.

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