Mauritanian Court Jails Anti-Slavery Activists

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Freedom House headquarters in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

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Three anti-slavery activists in Mauritania including Biram Dah Abeid has been sentenced to two years imprisonment by the court

ON January 15, the Mauritanian court held that anti-slavery activists were guilty as charged in a trial that is seen by some human rights groups as politically motivated.

One of such groups, Freedom House, a United States of America based human rights body, has reacted to the decision by a Mauritanian court to sentence to two years imprisonment three anti-slavery activists — Biram Dah Abeid, president of anti-slavery organization Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania, IRA, Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, IRA’s vice president; and Djiby Sow, president of the non-governmental organization Kawtal. Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

According to Freedom House, “We condemn this highly political verdict by the Mauritanian authorities, a verdict that is another example of the executive branch and the judiciary’s failure to adhere to the rule of law.”

Maïté Hostetter, program officer for West Africa, Freedom House said: “The resilience of IRA members and their many allies is proof that attempts to stifle freedom of association, expression, and political dissent will not stop the strong pro-democracy currents running through Mauritania.”

It should be recalled that on November 11, 2014, authorities arrested abolitionist Biram Dah Abeid along with eight others during an anti-slavery civil society event in the south-west part of the country. The activists were charged with crimes including inciting rebellion, threatening public order, belonging to an illegal organization, and participation in an unauthorized public gathering.

International and Mauritanian human rights organisations condemned the activists’ trial as politically motivated and part of ongoing government efforts to defame Abeid and the work of IRA-Mauritania. More than 25 lawyers worked pro bono to defend the activists, who remained in detention until their trial.

— Jan. 26, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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