GIS - October 08, 2012: The Certificate of Character Act 2012, passed by the National Assembly on 17 July 2012, will come into operation on 10 October 2012. Certificates of Morality will, henceforth be termed Certificates of Character.
Speaking to the press on October 5 in Port Louis the Attorney-General, Mr Yatin Varma, pointed out applications for the general public will be made in the same way as it is currently being done save and except that it should be accompanied by an application fee of Rs 100.
It has been reported that many people are facing difficulties where following a conviction, sometimes dating back several years, they were ordered to pay a small fine, were absolutely or conditionally discharged. These persons must go through the lengthy process of petitioning the President for pardon. This process is lengthy because, on receipt of a petition, the President refers it to the Commission on the Prerogative of Mercy which in turns requests the Commissioner of Police (and sometimes, the Probation Office) to make a report on the petition. Some of these persons even have recourse to the services of law practitioners, Mr Varma said.
He explained that now, under the Certificate of Character Act 2012 the Director Public Prosecutions (DPP) shall issue a certificate specifying that the person has never been convicted of a crime or misdemeanour where the applicant has in Mauritius:
• never been convicted by any crime or misdemeanour;
• following a conviction for a crime or misdemeanour, other than an offence specified in the second schedule (which include minor cases like assault, insult, threat, failure to pay alimony, false and malicious denunciation in writing, damaging tree, etc.), been given only-
(i) an absolute discharge; or
(ii) a conditional discharge, and has complied with the terms and conditions of the discharge; or
• more than 5 years before making the application, been convicted of a crime or misdemeanour, other than an offence specified in the second schedule, and been–
(i) given only a fine of up to Rs 5,000; or
(ii) made the subject of a probation order only, and has complied with the terms and conditions of the order; or
• been granted a free pardon in respect of a crime or misdemeanour pursuant to section 75 of the Constitution,
As regards a worker who has been issued with a Certificate of Character and submitted same to his employer, he shall not be required by that employer to apply for another certificate within a period of one year from the date of submission of the certificate but notwithstanding that he shall be required to disclose to his/her employer any conviction for a crime a misdemeanour subsequent to such submission.
An employer may, with the written consent of a worker apply for the issue of a certificate in the name of the worker but in this case the application fee will be Rs 300, the Attorney General said. Where the person has been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor and none of the circumstances mentioned above is applicable, the DPP shall also cause to be issued a certificate.
Under the previous Certificate of Morality Act, persons who had been convicted of serious offences listed in the Second Schedule to the Act and including inter alia, Murder, Child Trafficking, Offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Dangerous Drugs Act, were not eligible to a certificate. Under the Certificate of Character Act 2012, a certificate will be issued listing out any previous conviction(s). Save for exceptional circumstances, the DPP shall not issue another certificate in the name of a person within a period of 3 months following the issue of a certificate to that person.
Under section 6 of the Act, any person who tampers with, forges or fraudulently alters a certificate or a worker who contravenes the Act shall commit an offence.