Article 12 of the Constitution of Mauritius guarantees freedom of expression, the “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. Freedom of religion and belief, including the right to change religion or belief, is guaranteed by Article 11 of the Constitution.
Freedom of religion or belief is generally upheld in Mauritius. The government recognizes six religions, these are: Hinduism, Roman Catholisism, Islam, Angelicanism, Presbytarianism and the Seventh-day Adventists. According to the 2011 census, 48% of the population adheres to Hinduism, 26% are Catholic, and approximately 17% of the population are Muslims.
Section 206 of the Criminal Code criminalizes the “outrage against public and religious morality”.
Section 206 (1) reads:
“Any person who by words, exclamations or threats used in a public place or meeting; by any writing, newspaper, pamphlet or other printed matter, or by any drawing, engraving, picture, emblem or image, sold or distributed or put up for sale or exhibited in any public place or meeting; or by any placard or handbill exhibited for public inspection, commits any outrage against any religion legally established, or against good morals or against public and religious morality (‘la morale publique et religieuse’), shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year and to a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees.”
The penalty amounts to approximately $251 USD.
Section 206 (1) (b) further stipulates that “matters of opinion on religious questions” are not deemed to be an outrage.
Also, the “outrage on religious worship” is also criminalized in Section 185 of the Criminal Code:
“Any person who, by word or gesture, commits an outrage on the objects used for religious worship in the place devoted to or actually used for such religious worship, or upon any minister of such religion whilst officiating as such, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 10,000 rupees, and imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.”
There are no recent reports of the use of the ‘blasphemy’ laws in Mauritius.