Jan 12, 2018

UNPO and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Firmly Condemn Detention of Activists in Mauritania

The United Nations’ (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently published an opinion on the case that led thirteen activists in jail  in Mauritania, due to their belonging to the Initiative for the Resurgence of Abolitionism (IRA), an organisation committed to fighting for the elimination of slavery in the country. Mauritania currently counts more than 43,000 slaves according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, making it the country with the 7th highest prevalence of slavery in the world, despite having outlawed slavery in 2007 under international pressure. In particular, the Haratin minority suffers from this issue of slavery by descent - as slaves are often “inherited” from one generation to another.

In June and July 2016, Amadou Tidjani Diop, Ahmed Hamar Vall, Hamady Lehbouss, Mohamed Daty, Balla Touré, Moussa Biram, Khatry Rahel, Mohamed Jaroulah, Abdallahi Matala Saleck and Abdallah Abou Dio were arrested and imprisoned without an arrest warrant: the motivation for which the government decided to incarcerate them is connected to the activism of these individuals, who are all part of the IRA. As of today, Mr Biram and Mr Saleck are still incarcerated, suffering from mistreatment and torture and being denied access to medical treatments.

In an opinion drafted on 21 December 2017 and recently released, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention affirms that the activists’ group arrest is against some of the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The actions undertaken by the Mauritanian Government against them are therefore not only in contradiction with international law but also constitute a disregard for its own national policies.

The UNPO strongly supports the activities of the abolitionist movement IRA, an official Member of our organisation, and calls for the respect of the principles enshrined in the UDHR as well as the respect of all other international human rights conventions it has ratified in order to safeguard human rights on its soil. Mauritania should also collaborate with all the organisations that aim at fighting the ancient but persistent phenomenon of slavery. Finally, our organisation intends to continue spreading the welcome message sent by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and urges for the liberation of Moussa Biram and Abdallahi Matala Saleck, inviting all UNPO supporters to sign the petition of Freedom United.

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