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Mauritania has suffered two military coups, the last one being in 2008. A year later, in 2009, elections were held and the results maintained the leader of the military junta in power by a narrow majority in the polls. The 2006 Constitution, approved by referendum, reduced the presidential mandate to five years and imposed a two-term limit. It also protects the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly as well as freedom of opinion and thought. Despite a solid constitutional framework and democratic elections, human rights defenders in the country are subject to acts of harassment and intimidation, in particular those working on anti-slavery issues.
In 2007 a law criminalizing slavery was unanimously adopted by Mauritania's National Assembly. In 2011, for the first time, the law was applied by a Nouakchott court, which found three people guilty of the crime of slavery. However anti-slavery activists in Mauritania have been the subject of repeated acts of harassment and intimidation by the authorities. In 2011, several human rights defenders working on the issue were arrested and some of them sentenced to prison terms, including members of the Initiative de résurgence du mouvement abolitionniste en Mauritanie (IRA-Mauritania) and SOS Esclaves.
In recent years freedom of the press have improved in the country. The bureaucratic restrictions and censorship imposed on newspapers have now ended and Radio France International was again permitted to broadcast. Nevertheless, in 2009 the case of a website editor imprisoned for eight months for “offending public decency” raised concern. The arrest came as a consequence of the website publishing an article related to the wealth of a presidential candidate.
Freedom of assembly was limited at times. There were reports of the police dispersing peaceful protests and sit-ins. The beating of human rights defenders observing a demonstration was also reported. Furthermore, an increase in the number of trade union demonstrations and strikes was met by a violent response from authorities and resulted in some demonstrators being arrested.
14 March 2013
05 September 2012
26 June 2012
24 January 2012
23 November 2011
02 May 2013
28 January 2013
Mauritania: Beating and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders and members of Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA)
Mauritania: Deteriorating health of arbitrarily detained human rights defender Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid
Mauritania: Whereabouts of human rights defender Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid remains unknown two weeks after his arrest
Mauritania: Arrest and detention of four human rights defenders and members of l'Initiative de résurgence du mouvement abolitionniste en Mauritanie
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