Feb 29, 2016

EU High Representative Replies to Letter on Slavery in Mauritania Signed by 13000+

On the occasion of the annual Human Rights Day, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with 55 MEPs, 11 anti-slavery organisations and more than 13 000 members of the general public, submitted a letter addressing the problem of slavery in Mauritania to EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini on 10 December 2015. 


This letter drew attention to the alarming situation in Mauritania, where slavery remains a reality for between 4% and 17% of the population, while giving special attention to the precarious situation of imprisoned anti-slavery activists Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Ramdhane. The letter received more than 13 000 signatures – a clear indication of how strong public support for this issue is. UNPO therefore regrets that a symbolical request to hand in the letter and the list of signatories in person to Ms Mogherini’s cabinet was declined.

In their reply to the letter, Ms Mogherini’s cabinet reassures UNPO of the particular attention given to this important issue, and stresses that the EEAS is following the case of Biram Dah Abeid very closely. Moreover, the letter states that the EU delegation in Mauritania is regularly in contact with  IRA and paid a visit to Biram Dah Abeid in prison in November 2015. Highlighting that “the fight against slavery remains a priority for EU external action”, the letter further mentions that that EU intends to raise this topic with the Mauritanian government whenever it is appropriate to do so.

As a reminder, Biram Dah Abeid, President of IRA-Mauritania, one of the most important anti-slavery groups operating in the country, a presidential candidate in Mauritania’s 2014 election, and winner of the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize, was arrested in November 2014 during a peaceful anti-slavery march, alongside his colleague Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, Vice-President of the same organisation and Djiby Sow, President of the NGO Kawtal. In January 2015, the anti-slavery activists were sentenced to two years' imprisonment on charges of organizing, calling for, and participating in an unauthorized protest and being members of an unrecognized organization.

To download the letter, please click here.

To download Federica Mogherini’s cabinet response, please click here.