n African Human Rights Law Journal - Does the Mauritian Constitution protect the right to privacy? An insight from Madhewoo v The State of Mauritius

Volume 18 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This article analyses the substantive content of the right to privacy in Mauritius pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding proposed biometric identity cards. It provides for an overview of this critical decision from both a factual and legal point of view before assessing the way in which the Supreme Court has evaluated the limitation of rights to justify a restriction on the right to privacy in Mauritius. The article focuses on statements made by the judges from which inferences may be made on the content of the right to privacy and the degree of judicial activism shown in the case. The decision indicates that the Constitution of Mauritius only provides for a limited and incomplete right to privacy – of the home, body and property. This position is not in line with the international obligations of Mauritius under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in terms of which the right to privacy should be interpreted more broadly. While the Supreme Court has carried out the exercise of the limitation of rights correctly, its approach in the interpretation of the right to privacy has been restrictive and not generous and purposive. The judicial restraint shown by the apex court is of concern for human rights law interpretation in Mauritius.

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