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Freedom House Congratulates Biram Dah Abeid on Winning UN Human Rights Prize
Freedom House congratulates Mr. Biram Dah Abeid, president and founder of the human rights organization IRA-Mauritania (Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste), on receiving the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize, a prestigious award given every five years to exceptional individuals that promote and protect human rights. Mr. Dah Abeid shares the award with many other notable figures, including René Cassin, Taha Hussein, Benazir Bhutto, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Dah Abeid is one of the leading human rights defenders in West Africa. Although the Mauritanian government refuses to recognize IRA-Mauritania, Mr. Bah Abeid has repeatedly denounced the ‘slave code,’ and his work has directly led to the release of hundreds of slaves. Mr. Dah Abeid’s work on the front lines of the anti-slavery movement in Mauritania has led to threats against him and his colleagues ranging from arbitrary detention, to public harassment and torture. In April 2012, Mr. Dah Abeid was arrested and detained for four months along with six other members of IRA.
Although the government abolished slavery in 1981, the West African nation still has the highest prevalence of slavery in the world, with an estimated 140,000 enslaved. Freedom House calls on the government to uphold existing laws that criminalize slavery in an effort to eradicate slavery in the country. The Mauritanian government must open up the space for rights defenders to operate in the country and expand the resources available to victims of slavery.
Mauritania is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013.
Freeedom in the World 2013: Mauritania
Freedom of the Press 2013: Mauritania
Blog: Freedom at Issue
Freedom Alert (French)