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Mauritania: UN expert encouraged by progress but says more work needed to fully eradicate slavery

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A UN human rights professional immediately welcomed progress in strengthening Mauritania’s authorized framework and constructing the political will to fight slavery, however cautioned that a lot work nonetheless lay forward.

On the finish of a 10-day go to to the nation, Tomoya Obokata, the UN Particular Rapporteur on modern types of slavery, referred to as on the authorities to take pressing measures to step up implementation of Mauritania’s anti-slavery laws and to handle sensible, authorized, and social obstacles for folks affected by slavery to hunt justice and obtain equality.

“I’m grateful to the Authorities for welcoming my go to, and for the cooperation prolonged to my mandate by the very best ranges of authorities, together with the President of the nation,” Obokata mentioned in a press release. “I used to be inspired by the President’s acknowledgement throughout our assembly that denial of slavery isn’t the appropriate strategy, and his acknowledged dedication to ending slavery, bringing perpetrators to justice, and fostering the social and financial inclusion of former enslaved individuals.”

“For the reason that final go to of my mandate in 2014, Mauritania has taken vital steps to fight slavery and there’s a better willingness to debate slavery points brazenly,” mentioned Obokata.“The adoption of Regulation 2015-031 criminalizing slavery and slavery-like practices addressed most of the gaps in Mauritania’s earlier anti-slavery laws. I’m additionally inspired by efforts undertaken by the Authorities to boost consciousness of the regulation amongst authorized practitioners, judicial police, safety forces, civil society, and most people.”

However, Obokata cautioned that descent-based and modern types of slavery live on in Mauritania, inside and amongst all the nation’s main ethnic teams in addition to between sure teams. “Chattel slavery persists in Mauritania, regardless of denial of the follow in some quarters,” he mentioned.

“Enslaved individuals, notably girls and kids, are topic to violence and abuse, together with sexual violence, and are handled as property. Caste-based slavery can be a problem, with individuals from repressed castes who refute their slave standing going through violent reprisals and denial of entry to fundamental providers by dominant castes.

“Youngster labour stays a priority, notably the follow of pressured begging, and compelled labour practices are frequent in Mauritania’s casual sector, impacting migrants in addition to Mauritanian nationals.”

Obokata noticed that full enforcement of Mauritania’s anti-slavery laws remained elusive, and referred to as for redoubled efforts in direction of full implementation of the nation’s anti-slavery authorized framework and deal with deep-rooted social practices.

“The continued existence of slavery and different slavery-like practices in Mauritania regrettably demonstrates that related legal guidelines will not be enforced in follow and {that a} social transformation and a change within the mindset of the nation’s leaders is required in an effort to totally acknowledge and deal with slavery as a substitute of denying its existence,” mentioned Obokata.

“Additional effort is required to make sure slavery complaints are investigated and judged inside a well timed method, that victims of slavery are made conscious of their rights and in a position to successfully entry criticism mechanisms, in addition to given safety and help, and that penalties are totally utilized.”

Obokata additionally acquired stories that enslaved individuals and their descendants confronted challenges enrolling in Mauritania’s civil registry, a prerequisite for entry to schooling, formal employment, and fundamental providers.

“With out entry to formal employment and schooling, victims of slavery and their kids don’t have any viable pathways out of slavery, and stay trapped in a vicious circle of dependence on their enslavers or exploitative types of work,” Obokata mentioned. “It’s crucial that the Authorities deal with these communities’ obstacles to civil registration.”

Throughout his go to, Obokata met President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, and the Prime Minister His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Ould Bilal Messoud, in addition to different authorities officers. He additionally met with civil society, employee’s associations, the diplomatic group and the UN, in addition to human rights defenders, victims of slavery, and migrants. He had conferences in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

The Particular Rapporteur’s report on the go to might be introduced to the Human Rights Council in September 2023.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Workplace of the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

This Press Launch has been issued by APO. The content material isn’t monitored by the editorial crew of African Enterprise and never of the content material has been checked or validated by our editorial groups, proof readers or truth checkers. The issuer is solely liable for the content material of this announcement.

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