Press release

Mauritania: More Anti-Slavery Activists Arrested, Others Missing

This campaign of arrests orchestrated by the government is an attempt to stifle the work and tarnish the reputation of anti-slavery organizations in Mauritania.

Washington

In response to the arrest of two additional anti-slavery activists July 3 - 4 in Mauritania – less than a week after the president and vice-president of the anti-slavery organization IRA-Mauritania received the U.S State Department’s Heroes Award for their work against human trafficking – Freedom House issued the following statement:

“This campaign of arrests orchestrated by the government is an attempt to stifle the work and tarnish the reputation of anti-slavery organizations in Mauritania,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs. “After the court convictions of several slave owners and the release of IRA-Mauritania’s leadership from prison in May 2016, the arrests show that the government is not serious about honoring its human rights commitments.” 
 
Background:

Last week, Diop Amatidjane and Balla Touré, leading members of IRA-Mauritania (Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania) , along with four other activists were arrested by police. Over the weekend, police also arrested  Hamady Lehbouss and Ahmed Ould Hamady.  Their whereabouts remain unknown. All are accused of starting a riot when police forcibly attempted to move squatters from a slum on the periphery of Nouakchott.   

Mauritania is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016 and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016.