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Arbitrary detention of ten human rights defenders

Status: 
Detained
About the situation

On 26 February 2020, Mekfoula Mint Brahim, Mini Brahim and Ahmeddou Nafee were released from custody without charge. Four days earlier, Cheikhani Cheikh and Ahmed Amar were released, also without charge. Five other human rights defenders who were detained alongside them on 18 February remain in detention; Ahmed Mouhamed Moukhtar, Abderahmane Haddad and Outhmane Boubacar have been charged with blasphemy under Article 306 of the Mauritanian Penal Code (a crime punishable by death), while Mohamed Haida and Mohamed Val Isaac have been accused of cybercrimes under Article 21 of the cybercrime law.

On 18 February 2020, 14 human rights defenders were arrested by the police and taken into custody at the special unit of the judicial police of Nouakchott. Ten of them remain in detention, while four have been released on bail.

About Mekfoula Mint Brahim

MekfoulaMekfoula Mint Brahim is a woman human rights defender fighting against religious extremism and discriminatory practices in Mauritania, in particular the discrimination against women and members of the Haratine and sub-Saharan African communities. She is the President of Pour une Mauritanie Verte et Démocratique (For a Green and Democratic Mauritania), a human rights organisation founded in 2009, leading women’s empowerment projects in rural areas. She is also a member of Alliance pour la Refondation de l'Etat Mauritanien (AREM), an organisation promoting good governance and fighting against impunity.

28 February 2020
Five human rights defenders released while five others are charged

On 26 February 2020, Mekfoula Mint Brahim, Mini Brahim and Ahmeddou Nafee were released from custody without charge. Four days earlier, Cheikhani Cheikh and Ahmed Amar were released, also without charge. Five other human rights defenders who were detained alongside them on 18 February remain in detention; Ahmed Mouhamed Moukhtar, Abderahmane Haddad and Outhmane Boubacar have been charged with blasphemy under Article 306 of the Mauritanian Penal Code (a crime punishable by death), while Mohamed Haida and Mohamed Val Isaac have been accused of cybercrimes under Article 21 of the cybercrime law.

On 18 February 2020, Mekfoula Mint Brahim was one of 14 human rights defenders arrested for the second time in five days by police in Nouakchott. While four of the HRDs were released on bail the same day, ten continued to be detained. The arrests occurred after the HRDs attended a meeting on 13 February 2020 organised by Pour une Mauritanie Verte et Démocratique (For a Green and Democratic Mauritania) and Alliance for the Refoundation of the Mauritanian State (AREM) in a guest house in Nouakchott owned by Mekfoula Mint Brahim. The defenders were accused of participating in an unauthorized gathering and belonging to a group promoting secularism.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Mekfoula Mint Brahim, Mini Brahim, Ahmeddou Nafee, Cheikhani Cheikh and Ahmed Amar, it is extremely concerned by the continued detention of and charges against Ahmed Mouhamed Moukhtar, Abderahmane Haddad, Outhmane Boubacar, Mohamed Haida and Mohamed Val Isaac as it believes that they are solely linked to the HRDs' legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Mauritania to immediately and unconditionally release the five human rights defenders and drop all charges against them.

 

 

 

21 February 2020
Arbitrary detention of ten human rights defenders

On 18 February 2020, 14 human rights defenders were arrested by the police and taken into custody at the special unit of the judicial police of Nouakchott. Ten of them remain in detention, while four have been released on bail.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Mekfoula Mint Brahim is a woman human rights defender fighting against religious extremism and discriminatory practices in Mauritania, in particular the discrimination against women and members of the Haratine and sub-Saharan African communities. She is the President of Pour une Mauritanie Verte et Démocratique (For a Green and Democratic Mauritania), a human rights organisation founded in 2009, leading women’s empowerment projects in rural areas. She is also a member of Alliance pour la Refondation de l'Etat Mauritanien (AREM), an organisation promoting good governance and fighting against impunity.

On 13 February 2020, Pour une Mauritanie Verte et Démocratique and AREM held a meeting in a guest house in Nouakchott owned by Mekfoula Mint Brahim. On the same day, the police arrested 14 human rights defenders who attended the meeting, including Mekfoula Mint Brahim, AREM members Mini Brahim, Cheikhani Cheikh, Abderahmane Haddad, Ahmed Mohamed Mokhtar, Ahmeddou Nafee, and Outhmane Boubacar, as well as Ahmed Amar, Mohamed Haida and Mohamed Val Isaac. They were taken into custody at the special unit of the judicial police of Nouakchott. The next day, they were released on bail.

On 17 February, following a request by the police, Mekfoula Mint Brahim presented herself at the special unit of the judicial police of Nouakchott. She was ignored by the police officers and decided to go home after leaving her contact details at the station.

The next day, the 14 human rights defenders were arrested again. Four of them were released on bail on the same day, including Aminetou Mint El Moctar, who is the President of the Association of Female Heads of Household.

The remaining ten are still in detention. They are being held at three different police stations in Nouakchott. After having their mobile phones searched, they have been accused of belonging to a group promoting secularism. However, no formal charges have been filed against them and they have not been brought before a judge.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the arbitrary arrests of 14 human rights defenders and the ongoing detention of ten of them, as it is believed to be directly motivated by their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.