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Mauritania: Deteriorating health of arbitrarily detained human rights defender Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid
On 29 August 2012, Mr Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid was reportedly rushed to hospital from Dar Ennaim Prison in Nouakchott after losing consciousness.
This is the fourth time in less than a month that the human rights defender, who has been arbitrarily detained since April 2012, has been taken to hospital to receive emergency treatment. Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned by the reported deterioration in Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid's health. Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid is President of the Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste en Mauritanie – IRA (Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania), which works to eradicate slavery in Mauritania.
In the late evening of 29 August 2012, Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid was taken by an ambulance given a police escort to the emergency room of the National Hospital in Nouakchott after losing consciousness. This is the second time in less than one week that he has been rushed to hospital to receive emergency treatment. After arriving at the hospital around 11:00 pm, the medics spent a considerable amount of time resuscitating the human rights defender. He eventually recovered consciousness and his wife was allowed to see him at approximately 2:00 am. At that time, he reported having severe pains in his abdomen. Notwithstanding the fact that Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid has been rushed to hospital on four separate occasions in less than one month, doctors have reportedly been unable to determine the nature of his medical condition or the cause of the deterioration of his health. His family and friends believe that the human rights defender has not been getting adequate treatment, and state that he has lost at least 15 kilos since his arrest.
Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid was arrested on 29 April 2012, together with nine IRA supporters, in connection with the burning of Islamic law books the previous day, books which referred to the practice of slavery and were reportedly used to justify it. They were detained in an unknown location for weeks. On 29 May, they were eventually transferred to the civilian prison of Dar Ennaim after a lengthy court appearance in which the defendants were not assisted by their legal counsel. Three of the IRA supporters were released on the same day. Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid and the rest of his co-detainees were formally charged with 'threatening state security', an offence that carries the death penalty under Mauritanian law, and remanded in prison.
On 27 June 2012, the trial of Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid and his co-defendants was due to begin, but the judges, upon hearing the defense's procedural objections, decided to send the case back to the prosecution for further investigation. The prosecution had relied on the flagrante delicto procedure, which, as the defense argued before the court, was incompatible with charges carrying the death penalty. On 28 June 2012, the prosecution attempted to bring the defendants before the Terrorism Chamber on the same charges but the Chamber rejected the application. For further information see Front Line Defenders' urgent appeal from 18 May 2012 Whereabouts of human rights defender Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid remains unknown two weeks after his arrest and the following update from 26 June 2012 Trial of human rights defender Mr Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid scheduled to open on 27 June.
Front Line Defenders views Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid's continued detention as solely motivated by his legitimate human rights activities, in particular his anti-slavery work in Mauritania, and is gravely concerned about his health.