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Afrol News - Slavery Still Persists in Mauritania

Afrol News - Slavery Still Persists in Mauritania

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Published by: bgeller4936 on Jan 17, 2010
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12/12/2012

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10-01-15 11:53 PMafrol News - Slavery still persists in MauritaniaPage 1 of 2http://www.afrol.com/printable_article/34610
This article was found at the online version of afrol News. The URL andreference to the article is http://www.afrol.com/articles/34610
MauritaniaSociety | Human rights
Slavery still persists in Mauritania
afrol News, 4 November
- Despite strong efforts by the toppled democratic government of Mauritania, slaveryhas yet to be rooted out in the country, a UN report documents. Under the new government, little progress is madeto fight slavery.Gulnara Shahinian, the first UN "Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery" appointed only last year,today reports her findings after a longer research visit to Mauritania. While diplomatically praising theMauritanian government for "progress", she is quite clear on demanding stronger action to finally root out slaveryin the country."A more a holistic, collaborative and sustained approach addressing all forms of discrimination together with poverty at all levels of society is required," Ms Shahinian says, warning that slavery is partly "unaddressed" inMauritania. This "may be an obstacle to the stability, sustainable development and prosperity of Mauritania," saidthe UN expert.Slavery in modern times has been documented in Mauritania by many local and foreign human rights groups andthe UN for decades. Most Mauritanian governments, stemming from the military elite, have headed policies of denial regarding slavery, often criminalising organisations fighting slavery or speaking about it to foreign media.Only the recent military reform government under Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall (2005-07) and the democraticgovernment under President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi (2007-08) seriously addressed slavery in the country. InAugust 2007, an anti-slavery bill was approved and serious efforts were made to assist remaining slaves to obtainfreedom.Since the 2008 coup, however, civil society has again been limited in its freedom and the military government hasshown little interest in fighting slavery and helping slaves to be freed.The UN's Ms Shahinian confirms that slavery continues to be a problem. "In my visits to communities I met with people who told me that they had been victims of slavery practices such as serfdom and domestic servitude. These peo ple had f led slavery and also told the stories of those they had left behind," she reports from her Mauritaniavisit."These victims said that they were utterly deprived of their basic human rights. Having no alternative, theyvoluntarily stay or after fleeing, return back to slavery. This perpetuates the vicious circle of slavery for men,women and children. The women I met felt that they were the most vulnerable as they suffer triple discriminationfirstly as women, secondly, as mothers and thirdly as slaves," Ms Shahinian reports.The UN Special Rapporteur urged Mauritanian authorities to do more to address slavery. While the 2007 anti-slavery law was still in place, little is done to implement it, she noted between the lines."In order for victims to be encouraged to come forward, I recommend that the 2007 slavery law include provisions that provide for victim assistance and socio-economic programmes for their reintegration into society,"stressed Ms Shahinian. Enslaved Mauritanians still have little incentives to come forward, even risking being sent back to their masters by local police.Ms Shahinian also urged the military government to bring back civil society into the process to fight slavery, asdone by the toppled government. "The national strategy to combat slavery should be developed by different 

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