Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Ombudsperson for Children's Office
Ombudsperson for Children's Office>About Us>The Role, Powers and Functions of the Ombudsperson for Children

The Role, Powers and Functions of the Ombudsperson for Children


1. Our main objectives
 
  • Ensure that the rights, needs and interests of children are given full consideration by public bodies, private authorities, individuals and associations of individuals.
  • Promote child rights and best interests of children.
  • Promote compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
 
The Ombudsperson for Children (OC) represents and defends the rights of children in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega, children of Mauritian origin who live abroad and children of any other nationalities who reside in the Republic of Mauritius.
 
2. Investigation
 
As stipulated in Sections 6 and 7 of the OCA, the core function of our office is investigation. The OC investigates cases of violation of the rights of the child. ​
 
2.1. Guiding principles for investigations
 
Our investigations are carried out in:
 
(i) an independent and impartial manner;
(ii) a non-discriminatory way;
(iii) the best interests of the child;
(iv) consideration of the child’s opinion according to his/her age and maturity; and
(v) confidentiality and transparency. ​
 
2.2. Complaints
 
The OCO provides a free and open complaint service which is available to all. Complaints can be made by and on behalf of children. Complaints to the Ombudsperson for Children can be made directly by children or by parents, family members, adults working with children or any adult who is concerned about the violations of a child’s rights. You can complain about schools, hospitals, residential care institutions, police detention centres, Rehabilitation and Correctional Youth Centres, public bodies and private authorities. Please try to solve your complaints with the organisation you are unhappy with before contacting the Ombudsperson for Children’s Office.
 
In order to make a complaint, any person can:
 
(i) call at the office;
(ii) contact an investigator or the OC by phone;
(iii) download a complaint sheet from the OCO's website, fill it in and send it to the OCO;
(iv) write a complaint letter/email to the OC. ​
 
2.2.1 When you come to the office
 
  • You have to call at the Reception Desk, fill in your name in the visitor’s book and leave your mobile phone in the safe custody of the attendant.
  • An investigator will record your complaint. If the problem is not within our mandate, the investigator will give you information on referral to the appropriate service.
  • A case file will be opened within 1 day.
  • Actions will be initiated within 3-5 days.
  • Depending on the complexity of the complaint, we will aim to give you feedback at the earliest within a week or at latest within 3 months. ​
 
2.2.2 When you call the office on 454-3010
 
  • Our staff will be courteous to you and will identify themselves by their names.
  • Depending upon your queries, you will be directed to either an investigator or to the Confidential Secretary if you wish to speak directly to the OC.
  • An investigator will record your complaint. If the problem does not fall under our mandate, the investigator will give you information on referral to the appropriate service.
  • You may be requested to call in person at the OCO to give your statement.
  • A case file will be opened within 1 day.
  • Actions will be initiated within 3-5 days.
  • Depending on the complexity of the complaint, we will aim to give you feedback at the earliest within a week or at latest within 3 months. ​
 
2.2.3 When you write a letter or send an email to us
 
  • Our office will acknowledge receipt of your correspondence.
  • A case file will be opened within 3 days.
  • An investigator will contact you for additional information if required or will request you to call at the office.
  • Actions will be taken within 3-5 days.
  • Depending on the complexity of the complaint, we will aim to give you feedback at the earliest within a week or at latest within 3 months.
 
Please note that according to Section 7 of the OCA, the OC shall initiate an own-motion enquiry whenever she considers that there has been or there is likelihood of a violation of the rights of the child. ​
 
2.3. Actions taken during investigations
 
The OC may for the purposes of an investigation:
 
  • request any person, including any public officer, to provide information concerning a child whose rights have been, are being or are likely to be violated;
  • enter any premises where there is reasonable ground to believe that the moral and physical safety of a child may be in danger;
  • record the statement of any person in connection with an investigation;
  • summon witnesses and examine them on oath; and/or
  • call for the production of any document or other exhibit.
 
2.4. Actions taken following an investigation
 
  • The OC carries out mediation to resolve any dispute relating to the rights of the child.
  • The OC makes a report to people and authorities involved as she considers appropriate;
  • The OC makes proposals of a general nature to the authorities concerned, including the Minister, on any matter which may arise in the course of the investigation.
 
Anybody who is not satisfied with our investigation procedures can write an official complaint letter to the OC. ​
 
2.5. Offences
 
As per Section 11 of the OCA, it is an offence when a person fails to attend an appointment before the OC. Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.
 
Please note that the OC shall not investigate any case which is pending before any Court but may refer any child involved in such a case to the Ministry for advice, assistance or counselling.
 
3. Monitoring and evaluation of children’s rights
 
As per Section 6(d) and 6(e) of the OCA, the OC shall ensure that children under the care or supervision of, a public body are treated fairly, properly and adequately; that the legal rights of children in care are protected; and that the placement facilities conform to norms and guidelines. In this regard, regular visits are effected.
 
Our monitoring and evaluation mechanisms at the OCO are as follows:
 
  • Investigators collect information by making notes, taking photographs and recording statements of children and other stakeholders.
  • Reports on field visits are prepared and submitted to the OC within 3 days.
  • The OC makes recommendations to the appropriate authorities to improve the situation of children.
  • We disseminate our interventions to promote the rights of the child in all settings through our Annual Report, which is accessible to the Press and the public on our website. ​
 
4. Awareness and sensitisation campaigns
 
As per the OCA, the OC shall promote the rights and best interests of children through regular awareness and sensitisation activities. The office commits itself to pursue this objective by:
 
(i) producing brochures and leaflets for distribution to the general public;
(ii) developing Information, Education and Communication materials targeting children of different ages;
(iii) organising workshops for children; and
(iv) carrying out talks on children’s rights and other child-related issues.
 
5. Appointment of the Ombudsperson for Children
 
(1) The Ombudsperson for Children shall be appointed by the President of the Republic acting after consultation with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister and such other persons as he considers appropriate.
(2) An appointment under subsection (1) shall be subject to such terms and conditions as the President may determine.
(3) The Ombudsperson for Children shall hold office for 4 years and shall be eligible for reappointment for only a second term of 4 years.
(4) The President may remove the Ombudsperson for Children from office for inability to perform the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body and mind or any other cause, or misbehaviour.
(5) The Ombudsperson for Children shall not engage in any trade, business, profession or political activity. ​
 
6. Swearing-in Ceremony
 
The Ombudsperson for Children is Mrs Rita Venkatasawmy. She took oath before the President of the Republic of Mauritius on 08 December 2015, as per Section 3(3) of the Ombudsperson for Children’s Act 2003.
 
The Ombudsperson for Children represents and defends the rights of all Mauritian children which include children of Agalega and Rodrigues, Mauritian children abroad and foreign children in Mauritius.
 

“I, Mrs Rita Venkatasawmy, having been appointed to be the Ombudsperson for Children under the Ombudsperson for Children Act 2003 do swear/solemnly affirm that I shall faithfully, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge the trust and perform the duties devolving upon me by such appointment and that I shall not, without reasonable cause, disclose any information imparted to me in the performance of such duties.” ​

 
7. Powers and functions of the Ombudsperson for Children
 
In carrying out the duties of his office, the Ombudsperson for Children shall –
 
(a) make proposals to the Minister on legislation, policies and practices regarding services to, or the rights of, children;
(b) advise the Minister on public and private residential placement facilities and shelters established for the benefit of children;
(c) advise public bodies and other institutions responsible for providing care and other services to children on the protection of the rights of children;
(d) take such steps as he may deem necessary to ensure that children under the care of, or supervision of, a public body are treated fairly, properly and adequately;
(e) propose measures to ensure that the legal rights of children in care are protected and that the placement facilities promote the safety of children and conform with such norms as the Ombudsperson for Children may, from time to time, recommend;
(f) initiate an investigation whenever the Ombudsperson for Children considers that there is, has been or is likely to be, a violation of the rights of a child;
(g) investigate cases relating to the situation of children in the family, in schools and in all other institutions, including private or public bodies, as well as cases of abandoned children or street children;
(h) investigate any suspected or reported case of child labour;
(i) investigate cases concerning a child who is a citizen of Mauritius and who may be abroad at the time of the investigation, or a child who is not a citizen of Mauritius but who is residing in Mauritius;
(j) investigate complaints made by a child, or any other person, in relation to the rights of any child;
(k) advise the Minister on the establishment of mechanisms to afford children the ability to express themselves freely, according to their age and maturity, especially on all matters concerning their individual or collective rights;
(l) advise the Minister on the creation of partnerships with parents, teachers, non-governmental as well as governmental organisations, local authorities and any other stakeholders committed to the promotion of children’s rights.