Mauritania: Anti-Slavery Activists Mark Year Behind Bars
To mark the one year anniversary of the sentencing of Biram dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal to two years imprisonment for participating in an anti-slavery protest on January 15, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Imprisoning civil society activists, who play a crucial role in exposing crimes and protecting victims of slavery of Mauritania, only prolongs the fight to eradicate slavery," said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs. "The imprisonment of these two anti-slavery activists was and remains politically motivated, they should be immediately released without condition."
Abeid, UN Human Rights Prize winner in 2013, serves as president of the Initiative for the Resurgent Abolition Movement in Mauritania (IRA-Mauritanie). Bilal serves as IRA’s vice president. They, along with Djibi Sow, president of anti-slavery organization Kawtal, were convicted and sentenced in January 2015 for membership in an unrecognized organization. On June 26, Sow was provisionally released due to medical concerns. In August 2015, an appeal court upheld their sentence.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.