Overseas Department and Region of Mayotte
Département et Region d’Outre-Mer de Mayotte
(Overseas department and region  of France)
Joined United Nations:  24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 27 December 2012
194,000 (January 2009 est.)
Francois Hollande
President of France since 15 May 2012
French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term;
prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the
French Ministry of Interior. Election last held 22 April and 6 May
Next scheduled election: spring of 2017
Daniel Zaidani
President of the General Council
since 3 April 2011
President of the General Council elected by popular vote
64.7% indigenous, 3.9% French Republic (either metropolitan France or overseas France except Mayotte), 28.1%
immigrants from the Comoros, 2.8% were immigrants from Madagascar, 0.5% came from other countries
Islam (97%), Christian (3%)
Overseas Department and Region of France with 17 communes and 19 cantons. Legal system is customary Islamic
law however a condition of region and department status requires the evolution to a French civil law system with
indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts
Executive: President of France popularly elected for five year term represented by prefect, Presidents of General Council
and Regional Councils appointed by members of councils;
Election last held 22 April and 6 May 2012 ; Next scheduled
election: S
pring 2017
Legislative: unicameral General Council or Conseil General (19 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve
three-year terms)
Elections: General Council - last held in 20 March 2011 with a run off 27 March 2011 (next to be held March 2014);
Judicial: Courts are based on Islamic law however as a condition of obtaining overseas department and region of
France status, Mayotte must undergo a revision to its legal system to French civil law and courts by 2031.
French, Shimaore (a Swahili dialect with elements of French and Malagasy), Arabic
Much of Mayotte's early history is intertwined with Comoros. According to myth, the Comoros islands were first
visited by Phoenician sailors. The earliest inhabitants of the islands were probably Arabs and Africans, the latter
probably Bantu-speaking; the earliest evidence of settlement of the islands dates from the eighth century. Traces of this
original culture have blended with successive waves of African, Arab, Malagasy and Shirazi immigrants. The most
notable of these early immigrants were the Shirazi Arab royal clans, who arrived in Comoros in the 15th and 16th
centuries and stayed to build mosques, create a royal house and introduce architecture and carpentry. In 1500 the
Maore or Mawuti (contraction of the Arabic جزيرة الموت Jazīrat al-Mawt -meaning island of the dead / of death and
corrupted to Mayotte in French) sultanate was established on the island. In 1503, Mayotte was observed by
Portuguese explorers, but not colonized. In 1832, it was conquered by Andriantsoly, former king of Iboina on
Madagascar; in 1833 conquered by the neighbouring sultanate of Mwali (Mohéli island in French); on 19 November
1835 again conquered by the Ndzuwani Sultanate (Anjouan sultanate in French; a governor was installed with the
unusual Islamic style of Qadi (from the Arabic قاض which means judge), sort of a 'Resident Magistrate' in British
terms), but in 1836 regained its independence under a last local Sultan. Mayotte was ceded to France along with the
other Comoro Islands in 1843. It was the only island in the archipelago that voted in referendums in 1974 and 1976 to
retain its link with France and forgo independence (with 63.8% and 99.4% of votes respectively). The Comoros
continue to claim the island. A draft 1976 United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing Comorian sovereignty
over Mayotte, supported by 11 of the 15 members of the Council, was vetoed by France. It was the last time, as of
2011, that France cast a lone veto in the Council. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a series of
resolutions on the issues, whose tenor can be gauged from their title: "Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte" up
to 1995. Since 1995, the subject of Mayotte has not been discussed by the General Assembly. Mayotte became an
overseas department of France in March 2011 in consequence of a 29 March 2009 referendum. The outcome was a
95.5 per cent vote in favour of changing the island's status from a French "overseas community" to become France's
101st département. Its non-official traditional Islamic law, applied in some aspects of the day-to-day life, will be
gradually abolished and replaced by the uniform French civil code. Additionally, French social welfare and taxes apply
in Mayotte, though some of each will be brought in gradually.
Sources:Wikipedia: History of Mayotte;  
The economic activity of Mayotte is based primarily on the agricultural sector, including fishing and livestock raising.
The island is not self-sufficient and must import a large portion of its food requirements, mainly from Metropolitan
France. The economy and future development of the island are heavily dependent on French financial assistance, an
important supplement to GDP. Mayotte's remote location is an obstacle to the development of tourism.

The official currency of Mayotte is the euro.

In 2005 the GDP of Mayotte at market exchange rates was US$1.13 billion (€0.91 billion).[4] In that same year the
GDP per capita of Mayotte at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was US$6,500 (€5,200),[4] which was 10 times
higher than the GDP per capita of the Comoros that year, but only a third of the GDP per capita of Réunion and 19%
of the GDP per capita of Metropolitan France
Source: Wikipedia: Economy of Mayotte
Politics of Mayotte takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas
collectivity, whereby the President of the General Council is the head of government, and of a multi-party system.
Executive power is exercised by the government. The status of Mayotte was changed in 2001 towards one very close
to the status of the départements of mainland France, with the particular designation of collectivité départementale,
although the island is still claimed by the Comoros. This change was approved by 73% at a referendum on Mayotte.
After the constitutional reform of 2003 it became a collectivité d'outre-mer while keeping the title collectivité
départementale de Mayotte.
Claimed by Comoros
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
None reported.
Small amount of marijuana grown for local consumption; minor transshipment point to Europe
La Cimade Mayotte
2011 Human Rights Report: France (including Mayotte)
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012

France is a multiparty constitutional democracy. The president of the republic is elected by popular vote for a five-year term.
Nicolas Sarkozy is the incumbent. The upper house (Senate) of the bicameral parliament is elected indirectly through an electoral
college, while the lower house (National Assembly) is elected directly. Elections for seats in the National Assembly and for the
presidency in 2007 and for seats in the Senate in 2011 were considered free and fair. The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) is
the majority party in parliament. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

Note: The country includes 11 overseas administrative divisions that are covered in this report. Four overseas territories in French
Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion, have the same political status as the 22 metropolitan regions and 101 departments on
the mainland. Five divisions are overseas “collectivities”: French Polynesia, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre and
Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna. New Caledonia is a special overseas collectivity with a unique, semiautonomous status between
an independent country and an overseas department. Mayotte became the 101st department on March 31, 2011. Citizens of these
territories periodically elect deputies and senators to represent them in parliament, like the other overseas regions and departments.
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21 February 2008
Third and fourth periodic reports of States Parties due in 2007

The demographic context:  a young population
4.        On Mayotte, the population has increased fivefold in 35 years, reaching 160,265 in 2002. Those under the age of 20
represent 56% of the total, a higher percentage than for any other French collectivity (in metropolitan France, as at 1 January 2007,
there are 61,538,322 inhabitants, of whom 15,203,831, or 24.7%, are aged under 20).

2. 2        Respect for forms of personal status under customary law does not rule out bringing them into conformity with the
general legal principles of the rule of law and of international law
45.        Bringing forms of personal status into conformity with the principles which provide the framework for the rule of law in
France does not imply that they must be systematically aligned with the ordinary law.
46.        For example, a number of legislative provisions have brought the civil law of Mayotte into line with that in force in
metropolitan France. The programming law of 21 July 2003 for overseas France ends polygamy, establishes the termination of
marriage by divorce, and prohibits unilateral repudiations along with discrimination between children in inheritance matters based on
gender or on whether their birth is legitimate or natural. Article 68 of the Law of 21 July 2003 amends Title VI of Law No. 2001-
216 of 11 July 2001 on the status of Mayotte so as finally to restrict the field of application of personal status under local law to
personal capacity, to matrimonial arrangements and to inheritance and gifts, to the exclusion of all other aspects of the life of

2.        Mayotte
85.        The island of Mayotte has been a cultural and religious melting-pot with very strong African, animist, Bantu and Islamic
influences. The Muslim religion has been established there since the fifteenth century and has a major influence on how society is
organized:  95% of the population of the island is Sunni Muslim. The mother tongue of the Mahorais is either Shimaore (Swahili in
origin) or Kibushi (Madagascan in origin).
86.        Traditional society on Mayotte works on the principle that group interests take precedence over individual interests, and is
matriarchal (with filiation determined through the maternal line and with the home of the mother as the family’s place of residence).
The culture is underpinned by a rich oral tradition.
87.        Customary law inspired by Islamic law and African and Madagascan customs applies to persons who have retained their
personal civil status, as permitted by Article 75 of the Constitution. The Law of 11 July 2001 on Mayotte preserves this local civil
status based on customary law and sets out the scope for renouncing this status in favour of civil status under ordinary law.
88.        Personal civil status is essentially concerned with personal and family rights, and with inheritance rights. So, in these
areas, persons who have retained their personal civil status are subject to special rules.
89.        There are special courts which have jurisdiction over litigation arising from the application of local law.
90.        The legislature has taken action to set aside exceptional regimes, arising from local and customary law, which were
incompatible with the equality of men and women in the Collectivity of Mayotte.
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Comoros (includes Mayotte)
Freedom in the World 2012

Large numbers of Comorans illegally emigrate to Mayotte to settle or to seek entry into metropolitan France, and the economy
depends heavily on remittances and foreign aid. In 2009, the global economic downturn contributed to delays and suspensions of
public-sector salary payments and a decline in public services. These problems continued in 2011; in June, the legislature took
action to try to reduce the government’s unsustainably high wage burden by reining in civil service salaries.
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12 APRIL 2010
Article 16

In December 2008 Amnesty International received an anonymous letter containing photographs and video footage from inside the
Pamandzi detention centre for migrants in Mayotte (French overseas territory). The material revealed severe overcrowding and
extremely poor hygiene and medical facilities.

In its opinion N° 2007-135/2007-136 of 14 April 2008, the CNDS described the detention centre as follows:

“It consists of three large rooms for the detainees, without beds, people lie on the ground on shabby mats which occasionally lie on
top of damaged bare concrete floor. The bathrooms consist of four showers and six toilets shared between men and women; their
state is pitiable.” According to the head of the detention centre, quoted by the CNDS, “the theoretical capacity of 60 places is
regularly surpassed … reaching 220 people; this situation is unmanageable for the staff and detainees.” According to the CNDS, the
centre has been in need of rebuilding since 1999.

The NGO Cimade described the conditions in its 2007 annual report:72 “The detention centre for migrants (centre de rétention
administrative) consists of three rooms: one around 60m2 is for women, another reserved for men is around 50m2, we were told
that the third room, which was empty at the time of our visit, was for ‘regroupement’ before departures. In the middle of the
detention centre there is a custody cell. There are no beds, people sleep directly on the floor.No toiletries or bedding, as required by
the internal regulations, are distributed to the detainees. There is no space reserved for families or for children (no changing table,
no babies’ beds, no toys). And this despite the fact, we repeat, the shocking number of very young children held in detention.”

Following his visit to France from 21 to 23 May 2008, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on the French
authorities to ensure “that human rights and human dignity are respected in all administrative holding centres and that the living
conditions afforded to foreigners held in Mayotte are improved immediately”.73

The Children’s Ombudsperson, in a report following a visit to Mayotte in October 2008, insisted on the urgency of the work
needed and recalled that children, who have not committed any offence, should not be held in detention.74
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No reports from Human Rights Watch mentioning Mayotte after exhaustive search of their data base. Please forward any
information you may have regarding Human Rights Watch efforts on behalf of Mayotte to the Pax Gaea World Report
editor at the link below.
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Women's Rights
Updated on: 08/02/2012 6:52

Government policy in favor of equality between men and women, based on a dual approach:

 integrated: it is to consider equality issues in the design, implementation and evaluation of sectoral public policies, such as
employment, education, health, economic development, the land use, etc..
 specific: the inequalities which persist and that requires remedial measures for women.

The implementation of this policy is the

 at national level by the service of women's rights and equality (SDFE), under the authority of the Director General of Social
Cohesion. The SDFE is responsible for the strategy to promote women's rights and equality both nationally and internationally and
runs a network of regional and departmental delegations.

 locally, this mission is accomplished at the regional level by regional delegates to the rights of women and departmental level by
departmental project managers. Their mission is technical advice to the Prefect to decline locally the national policy of equality
between men and women.

The corresponding women's rights and equality of Mayotte is under the authority of the prefect of Mayotte.

This policy is structured around four areas of public policy women's rights and equality between women and men:

- The gender and women's access to positions of responsibility and decision making in politics, in the economic world, in public
office and in community life.

- Gender equality.

- Equality of rights and dignity.

- The harmonization of working life, family and society.
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July 12, 2012
Families in detention: the situation of Mayotte is not to be forgotten

Friday, July 6, the Interior Ministry issued a circular to limit the detention of families in detention centers.

Cimade welcomes the commitments made by Francis Holland during the campaign but wants the prefectures are much encouraged
to use only very limited exceptions provided in the Circular, and above remains extremely concerned about the situation in Mayotte.
It is urgent to end the detention of children and to close an emergency detention center inhuman

No "special circumstances" of immigration can not justify failure to respect fundamental rights as is the case, though daily in
Mayotte. Indeed, Mayotte, where the code of entry and residence does not apply, was excluded from the scope of this Circular.
Yet in 2011, 340 children were locked in the metropolis, 5400 in Mayotte, in "appalling conditions", according to the Comptroller
General of places of deprivation of liberty.
Children sometimes a few months, adolescents who spent all their lives and their schooling in Mayotte, some children should be
French. Many were arrested with one of their parents, others were arrested later, once the administration has convinced their
mother that it was better that they be deported with her rather than left alone on the island. Yet others are arrested, imprisoned and
deported alone, even though no juvenile may be subject to deportation! To erase the illegality of its action, the police did not hesitate
to link them to other adults fictitiously arrested at the same time. All this happens in Mayotte, in the territory of the French Republic.

That the circular aimed at ending the detention of families that excludes one hundred and first French department again illustrates
the dangerous state of emergency which seems to be condemned Mayotte.
This is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights which has notably led to the enactment of this circular. Decision which
prohibits the detention of children in detention centers metropolis. Mayotte is under the jurisdiction of the European court of human
rights that should be the first departments that prohibit the confinement of children.
No longer allowed to lock up children will not cause any any 'pull factor'. These men and women are driven to come to France by
the living conditions too difficult in the Comoros, not by the relaxation of the minimal French immigration policy. Moreover, the
extreme hardening of the latter in recent years has not prevented from coming!

Rejecting the argument of a 'special situation locally, "Cimade urgently request the Government to end the detention of children in
Mayotte, but also simply close the detention center Pamandzi repeatedly denounced by the Comptroller General places of
deprivation of liberty, the Defender of Rights or the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, for its inhumane and
degrading conditions. Again, no "special circumstances" can not justify violations of fundamental human rights. As clearly stated
Christiane Taubira, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, "there can be no derogations, under cover of adaptation to local
conditions are actually restrictive of freedom. "
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The difficulties of university enrollment of a student Mahorian resolved
the 22/05/2012

Pablo, of foreign origin, entered the territory in 2003 for medical reasons. It was supported by his uncle residing in Mayotte and
was able to get more residence for health reasons that allowed him to continue his education in the territory until its Bachelor in

At that time, when renewing his residence permit, Pablo receives a receipt with a validity of 3 months. This document is not
accepted at registration for training or higher education either through Education that the various local training centers. Impossible,
since for Pablo to continue his studies.

The delegate of the Ombudsman received the reconsideration of the case by the Prefecture who provided a certificate confirming
the award next to a residence. Immediately, Pablo enrolled in the training center of choice to begin his graduate studies.
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Represented by
Thomas Degos
Prefect since 21 July 2011
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None reported.