Mauritania: Anti-slavery activist’s harsh sentence upheld on appeal

The harsh sentence upheld this evening against a prominent anti-slavery activist is a clear indication that Mauritania has no intention of letting up on its crackdown on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

An appeal court in the south-western town of Aleg has confirmed the two year sentence after convicting former presidential candidate Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, Brahim Bilal and Djiby Sow of membership in an unrecognized organization, taking part in an unauthorized assembly, failing to comply with police orders and resisting arrest.

It is revolting that this unjust and harsh sentence has been upheld. All three of them have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights and are therefore prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally

Alioune Tine, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“The intensification of the crackdown on anti-slavery activists and human rights defenders in Mauritania has no legal justification in a country which ironically just this month adopted a law indicating slavery is a crime against humanity. By failing to overturn the sentence Mauritanian authorities have displayed total disregard for justice and to the hundreds of thousands of voices around the world calling for the abolition of slavery.”

Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid is the President of the anti-slavery NGO Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), and was the runner-up in the last presidential elections. He was sentenced on 15 January along with two others, all of whom refused to attend the appeal trial.