Mauritania

The seventh annual meeting of Arab national human rights organisations wrapped up in Nouakchott last week with an affirmation of the groups' role in protecting civil liberties. The 27-28 April conference focused on how rights organisations in the Arab world can help monitor and enforce international treaty obligations with respect to human rights. Participants concluded the event with a 'Nouakchott Declaration' that emphasised the role national human rights bodies have in implementing rights ...read more

Anti-riot police Monday broke up a 'Day of Anger' rally by Mauritanian youths demanding the ouster of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, detaining about 20 protesters. As the tide of Arab uprisings swept to the west of Africa, police used tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators who sought to enter a square in downtown Nouakchott that has been declared off-limits for protesters since rallies began in late February.

In January, a Nouakchott court sentenced Oumoulmoumnine Mint Bakar Vall to six months in prison for enslaving two girls, ages 10 and 14, in the city's Arafat neighbourhood. Last month, two men and three women were arrested for keeping three young female slaves in Nouakchott. The arrests came after anti-slavery NGO chiefs Boubacar Ould Messoud, Biram Ould Dah Abeid and Aminetou Mint El Moctar launched a hunger strike to compel authorities to press charges in the case.

While aesthetic standards are slowly shifting and some women refuse the destructive practice of forcing weight gain, traditionally in Mauritania a plump figure on a woman signifies wealth and well-being. For generations families force-fed their daughters litres of cow’s or camel’s milk daily in part to improve their marriage prospects. But in recent years, despite health warnings, some girls and women are voluntarily turning to other methods, like taking cortisone products - including one des...read more

A Nouakchott court on Sunday (16 January) sentenced Oumoulmoumnine Mint Bakar Vall to six months in prison for enslaving two girls, ages 10 and 14, in the city's Arafat neighbourhood. Last week, three human rights activists were handed down six month sentences for taking part in an unauthorised rally over the case. The verdict against the rights defenders, including Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) head Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, was based on charges of assembl...read more

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