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Mauritania: More Anti-Slavery Activists Arrested, Others Missing
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.”
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.
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.