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Request for Intervention

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by SOS-Esclaves and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), both members of the OMCT network, that Mauritanian Popular Front (MPF) opposition party president Mr. Mohamed Lemine Ch'Bih Ould Cheikh Malainine, and party members Mokhtar Ould Haibetna and Bouba Ould Hassann, have been convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, on June 14th. Mr. Ch'Bih was arbitrarily arrested on April 8th, 2001 and was initially detained incommunicado for 10 days.

Case MRT 170401.1
Follow-up of Case MRT 170401

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT
intervention in the following situation in Mauritania.

New Information

According to the information received, the three detainees were
convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit acts of sabotage
and terrorism. The charges have not been backed by any evidence
and it appears that their arrest and subsequent sentencing has
been politically motivated. The trial began on 28th May 2001 at a
criminal court in Aioun. The trial was moved to Aioun from the
capital city of Nouakchott after demonstrations were held to protest
the arrest, during which the Mauritanian police reportedly used
teargas to disperse the protestors. At first, Mr. Ch'Bih's lawyers
had withdrawn in protest at procedural irregularities and concerns
that the court could not deliver a fair trial, but they subsequently
returned to the case, at the request of Mr. Ch’Bih, despite
perceived irregularities in the way that the trial was being
conducted. The lawyers have said that they will appeal the
conviction, and officials from the MPF have announced that they
were filing an appeal with the Supreme Court on June 19th, 2001.

One trial observer from the African Assembly for the Defence of
Human Rights was able to attend several hearings of the trial.
However, two other observers from the Moroccan Bar Association
and the International Freedom of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)
respectively were prevented from attending the trial.

According to the information received, an group has been created
to protest against the conditions under which the trial in question
has been held, basing itslef on the model provided by a similar
group which protested on behalf of Guinean opposition party
member Alpha Condé, who had also been sentenced to 5 year in
prison under similar circumstances in his country, but was
released on May 18th following a presidential pardon. This group,
which is known only as the “Collectif pour la libération de Cheikh
Malainine,” has reportedly already approached the African
Commission on Human Rights and the UN Committee on Arbitrary
Arrest, Detention and Exile.

OMCT is gravely concerned about Mr. Ch'Bih, Mr. Haibetna and
Mr. Hassan’s physical and psychological integrity, as well as their
arbitrary arrest and the procedural irregularities of their trial, leading
to what is deemed to be and unfair and unsubstantiated prison
sentence. More generally, OMCT is concerned about the
Mauritanian Government’s harrassment of political opposition party

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, Mr. Ch'Bih, the President of
the Popular Front opposition party, was arrested at his home on
April 8th, 2001 by a brigade of State Security officials, and is
accused of conspiracy and plotting acts of violence. The authorities
performed a search of his house in his presence, and reportedly
terrorised his family. Mr. Ch’Bih has been held incommunicado
since then in the district of Nouakchott regional police
headquarters premises.

On April 17th, 2001, Mr. Ch’Bih’s family and lawyers finally
managed to negotiate access to the detainee, although access to
the documents regarding the case have not been granted,
suggesting that due legal process may not be observed by the
authorities. Furthermore, OMCT is gravely concerned for Mr.
Ch'Bih's physical and psychological integrity during his detention
by the Mauritanian authorities.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Mauritania urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee Mr. Ch'Bih, Mr.
Haibetna and Mr. Hassan’s physical and psychological integrity;
ii. order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal
charges or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial
and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental
freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national
laws and international human rights standards.


· President of the Republic, Son Excellence Monsieur le
Président Maaouiya Ould Sid 'Ahmed Taya, Président de la
République, La Présidence -BP 184, Nouakchott – Mauritania.
Fax : +222 2 52406 or +222 2 59801.
· Minister of the Interior, Monsieur Dah Ould Abdel Jelil,
Ministre de l'Intérieur, des Postes et des Télécommunications
Ministère de l'Intérieur, des Postes et des Télécommunications
BP 195, Nouakchott – Mauritania. Fax : +222 2 53661
· Minister of Justice, Monsieur Mohamed Salem Ould
Merzoug, Ministre de la Justice, Ministère de la Justice - BP
350, Nouakchott – Mauritania. Fax : +222 2 57002 or +222 2
· Public Prosecutor, Mohamed Yeslem Ould Jidimou,
Procureur de la République, Palais de Justice, Nouakchott -
Mauritania Telegrams: Procureur République, Nouakchott,

Please also write to the embassies of Mauritania in your respective

Geneva, April 28th, 2001

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this
appeal in your reply.

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)
8 rue du Vieux-Billard
Case postale 21
CH-1211 Geneve 8
Tel. : 0041 22 809 49 39
Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29
E-mail : [email protected]