Anti-Slavery International ‘shocked and concerned’ over reports of arrest of anti-slavery activists in Mauritania

13 November 2014

Anti-Slavery International said that it is ‘shocked and concerned’ over reports of arrest of anti-slavery activists in Mauritania.

In a letter sent to the Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in the UK the organisation called on the Mauritanian authorities to properly investigate the reports and stop the harassment of anti-slavery activists.

The reports sent by the Mauritanian anti-slavery organisation Initiative for the Resurgence of Abolitionism (IRA) said that anti-slavery its activists, including the organisation’s president Biram Dah Abeid, were violently arrested during their peaceful campaign to raise awareness about land rights for people of slave descent.

The activists were calling for land reform and an end the slavery-like practice whereby people of slave descent work on land without any rights over it and are forced to give a portion of crops to their traditional masters.

Anti-Slavery also expressed concerns over report that calls for the killing of Biram Dah Abeid were reportedly made publicly at the Central Mosque of Nouakchott, and reported public death threats against prolific women’s rights and anti-slavery activist Aminétou Mint Moctar.

Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said:

‘The Mauritanian government’s pursuit of anti-slavery campaigners stands in stark contrast to the lack of action to investigate, arrest and prosecute slave-owners in the cases brought to their attention by anti-slavery organisations. There are currently over 30 slavery cases before the courts, none of which are progressing.

‘We urge the Mauritanian authorities to pursue the proper investigation and prosecution of slavery cases, rather than targeting anti-slavery campaigners.
‘The eyes of the international community are on Mauritania. We stand in solidarity with the imprisoned anti-slavery activists.’

Note to editors:

For more media information or to arrange interviews, contact Anti-Slavery International Press Officer Jakub Sobik at or on 07912 145610