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UA 490/90 - Mauritania: legal concern / fear of torture: Biri Aly Dioum, Hamedine Kane, Samba Bathily and many others

, N° d'index: AFR 38/014/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 38/14/90
Distr: UA/SC
UA 490/90 Legal Concern/Fear of Torture 4 December 1990
MAURITANIA: Biri Aly DIOUM, customs inspector in Nouadhibou
Hamedine KANE, military doctor
Samba BATHILY, director of air-traffic control at
Nouakchott airport
+ many others
The three men named above are among at least 50 people holding posts in government
service, either in the civilian administration or in the armed forces, who
have been arrested in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou in the past three weeks. Most
are believed to be members of the Peul or Pulaar-speaking ethnic group (known
as Hal-pulaar). No reasons for their arrest has been given by the government.
However, some military personnel from the Peul-speaking ethnic group arrested
in Rosso, on Mauritania's southern border with Senegal, in October 1990 are
reported by government sources to be accused of giving information to
anti-government rebels, allegedly entering Mauritania from Senegal to attack
the town of Rosso.
Since news of the arrests in mid-November, those detained have been denied
access to their families who do not know where they are held. They appear
to be held outside the terms of Mauritania's law and to be at risk of torture
and prolonged arbitrary imprisonment. Under the terms of Mauritania's laws,
particularly the Code of Penal Procedure, suspects arrested by the police or
security forces have to be referred to the Procuracy (parquet) within 48 hours
of their arrest, to be remanded in custody formally and to have their cases
investigated. This period of detention (garde à vue) can be renewed once only
by written authorization from the Procureur de la République or the President
of a Regional court. It may be extended up to 30 days if suspected offences
involve the security of the state.
Since April 1989, following intercommunal disturbances between Senegalese and
Mauritanians when hundreds of people were killed in some Mauritanian cities,
thousands of black Mauritanians, mostly villagers, have been expelled from
their own country to neighbouring Senegal. Many have been detained in
Mauritania for two or three weeks before being expelled and some are reported
to have been tortured or killed in custody. In more recent months, many black
Mauritanians, particularly Hal-pulaar, have chosen to flee Mauritania to avoid
becoming victims of persecution.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters, in
French or Arabic if possible:
- expressing concern at reports that Biri Aly DIOUM, Hamedine KANE, Samba
BATHILY, and many others have been arrested recently and are being held without
- inquiring as to reasons for their detention and its legal basis and urging
that they should not be detained unlawfully outside the framework of the law;
- requesting assurances that they are not being subjected to torture and that
they have access to all necessary medical attention;
- urging the authorities to allow these detainees and others arrested in recent
weeks immediate access to legal counsel, to relatives and medical facilities;
- expressing concern that those held may be imprisoned on account of their
ethnic origin and urging that if this is the case they should be released
unconditionally and immediately.
Son Excellence Monsieur le Colonel Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed TAYA
Président du Comité militaire de salut national, et Chef de l'Etat
La Présidence
B.P. 184
République Islamique de Mauritanie
Faxes: + 222 2 52636
Telegrams: President Ould Taya, Nouakchott, Mauritania
Telexes: 580 PRIM MTN
Monsieur Adama Samba Sow
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Faxes: + 222 2 52860 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Nouakchott, Mauritania
Telexes: 585 MINAF MTN (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Monsieur le Lieutenant-Colonel Mohamed Lemine Ould N'Diayane
Secrétaire permanent du Comité militaire de salut national
La Présidence
BP 184
Telegrams: Secretaire Comite militaire Ould N'Diayane, Nouakchott,
Telexes: 566 MINDEF MTN (via Ministry of Defence)
Son Excellence Monsieur Hasni Ould Didi
Ministre des Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération
Ministère des Affaires étrangères
BP 230
and to diplomatic representatives of MAURITANIA in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 15 January 1991.

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