UN expert urges Mauritania to take more vigorous efforts to eliminate slavery

Gulnara Shahinian, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

27 February 2014 – The establishment of a special Tribunal to prosecute crimes of slavery in Mauritania bring the country one step closer to effectively ending the practice of slavery, an independent United Nations expert said, calling on the Government to deploy all necessary efforts to making this a reality.

Wrapping up an official visit to the country, Gulnara Shahinian, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, urged authorities to take more vigorous measures to fully implement the laws and policies.

“The adoption of the road map for the implementation of my previous recommendations is a clear sign that Mauritania is on its way to eradicate slavery and its remnants once and for all,” said Ms. Shahinian at the end of her follow-up visit to the country to access new developments and initiatives taken in response to previous recommendations.

“I am sure that the 6 of March 2014, when the Government will adopt formally the road map, this will mark a turning point in the fight against slavery in country,” she added ahead of presenting her findings and further recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

The Special Rapporteur called the passing of the law criminalizing slavery in 2007 a “milestone” and a “major achievement” for the country’s efforts to eradicate slavery practices, and noted that under the constitutional reform introduced in 2012, persons convicted of slavery can be sentenced to up to ten years in prison.

She also noted that a number of legislative efforts launched in 2011 towards securing the rights of housemaids and domestic workers are an important element in the fight against slavery, but highlighted that “concerted action is required to fully realize their human rights.”

Ms. Shahinian stressed the need to ensure targeted and tailored solutions for former slaves in order to avoid that the eradication of the vestiges of slavery become incorporated in more general programmes on poverty alleviation.

“A prerequisite for the efficiency of these programmes is reliable information which is currently lacking, and that is why an urgent need exists to provide detailed and precise data, statistics and a thorough study,” she noted.

Special Rapporteurs serve in an independent and unpaid capacity and report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, by whom they are appointed.


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