Jul 02, 2012

Anti-Slavery Movement Takes the Streets (video) while Biram Ould Abeid & fellow Activists Remain Arbitrarily Detained

Almost two months after their arrest, the human rights defender and President of the “Initiative de Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste” (IRA), the main anti–Slavery Movement in Mauritania, Mr. Biram Ould Abeid and his 6 co-defendants were finally presented before the Court on Wednesday 27 June in Nouakchott.

Mr. Biram Ould Abeid, who is being detained for burning texts that claim slavery is a practice encompassed by the Koran, faces charges of terrorism and apostasy, among others. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to the death penalty, while his fellow activists face sentences of up to thirty years imprisonment. From the very beginning of the trial, the defense lawyers raised procedural objections, as the procedure followed by the prosecution violated Article 71 of the Code of Procedure, according to which the “flagrantedelicto” procedure is incompatible with charges carrying the death penalty, and requires additional investigation.

The judges received the lawyers opposing argument, and as a result rejected the prosecution´s request and returned the case to the prosecutor. Mr.Biram Ould Abeid welcomed the decision from prison as «a partial victory for Mauritanian justice».

On 28 June, the seven detainees appeared again before the prosecutor, who sent them to the Terrorism Chamber on the very same charges that were rejected the day before. Consequently, the judge refused to write a new detention order, keeping the seven co-defendants detained under the old warrant.

Having been already invalidated by the Criminal Court the previous day, Mr. Me Bah Ould Mbareck, one of the defense lawyers, reacted saying: «We consider that Biram and the others are now arbitrarily detained, they should be released». The statement was made while the team of the defense lawyers protested outside the prosecutor's office, who promised to receive them within the next 24 hours.

On the same day disavowing calls made by the Government for severe sentences, Kane Hamidou Baba, one of the leaders of the parties supporting the President of Mauritania, came out publicly, on national TV, demanding for the release of Biram and his fellows activists «for the cohesion and the national unity», noticing that «those books are not sacred».

Over the last week the anti-Slavery Movement has revived its assertiveness, taking to the streets and speaking out for the release of Biram and the other IRA activists, as well as demanding from the government to put an end to slavery[i].



[i] Here you can watch the video where the anti-Slavery Movement in Mauritania takes the streets on 26-06-2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5nk0imn-1Y&feature=youtu.be