Mauritania Charges Anti-Slavery Activists
In response to the Mauritanian government on July 13 charging 23 anti-slavery activists with disturbing public order and belonging to an unregistered organization, after detaining them more than a week in an undisclosed location, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The bogus charges the Mauritanian government brought against anti-slavery activists show the government’s system of stifling free speech,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs. “The charges are the same as used in the trumped-up case against anti-slavery activists Biram dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Rahdhane in January 2015, who were then imprisoned for 18 months. The Mauritanian government should unconditionally release these activists and stop restricting the work of civil society organizations.”
Mauritania authorities brought 23 activists to court at 4 a.m. on July 13, after holding them incommunicado for a week. The activists are now in Prison Dar Nain in Nouakchott; witnesses said the activists showed signs of having been physically abused.
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.