'Mauritania must not jail anti-slavery activists'--Amnesty Int'l
Amnesty International is calling on authorities in Mauritania to revoke jail sentences given to four anti-slavery activists, who protested against the enslavement of a 10-year-old girl.
The four men, who belong to an anti-slavery NGO, were said to have been arrested in early August on charges of “unauthorized gathering" and “rebellion".
They have been given six-month suspended sentences by a Nouakchott court.
But in a statement received by WADR, Amnesty International said, the sentencing of people for simply exercising their right to peaceful protest is "a travesty of justice".
Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa said,“The draconian response to the work of these activists suggests that the Mauritanian authorities are trying to cover up the fact that slavery takes place in the country”.
More of the rights group’s press statement:
“The four activists, all members of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA), are Tourad Ould Zeid, Cheikhna Ould Cheyakh, Moulay Abdel Karim Touré and Moctar Ould Mohamed.
The IRA is not recognized by the authorities despite its attempts to become officially registered.
After discovering last month that the 10-year old girl was being held in slavery by a woman in Nouakchott, the IRA reported the case to the police.
The protesters say the woman was arrested and charged with enslaving a minor but was then provisionally released, on condition that she reports to the police station every week. The child is reportedly still missing.
“It is deeply disturbing that Mauritanian authorities are punishing people who file cases against those suspected of slavery practice with suspended sentences, thereby risking imprisonment if they try to protest again. The Mauritanian authorities must immediately revoke these sentences," said Erwin van der Borght.
Another IRA activist who took part in the 4 August protest told Amnesty International police had beaten him when they arrested him.
He was detained for five days at Nouakchott’s Dar Naïm prison but acquitted by the court yesterday.”