Mauritania, pronounced mawr ih TAY nee uh, is a country in western Africa. It stretches eastward from the Atlantic coast into the Sahara. Arabic-speaking people called Moors make up most of the population. Black Africans form a large minority group. About 99 percent of the people are Muslims.
Mauritania agrees to adopt roadmap to eradicate slavery
UN envoy on modern-day slavery says plan will include number of economic projects to help victims out of trade.
First Published: 2014-02-28
Middle East Online
NOUAKCHOTT - The United Nations envoy on modern-day slavery said on Thursday Mauritania had agreed to adopt a roadmap for eradicating the trade, which campaigners say remains widespread in the west African nation.
country was the last in the world to abolish slavery, in 1981, and
since 2012 its practice has been officially designated a crime, but
campaigners say the government has failed in the past to acknowledge
the extent of the trade, with no official data available.
Shahinian, the UN's Special Rapporteur on contemporary slavery,
announced as she ended a four-day visit that Mauritania would adopt a
roadmap on March 6 which had been prepared with the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
said the plan was "an important step in eradicating slavery in the
country" and would include "a number of economic projects" to help
victims out of the trade.
added she was "satisfied with the action of the government, which has
taken important steps towards the eradication of slavery" since her
last visit in 2009.
labour is a particularly sensitive issue in Mauritania, where
anti-slavery charities are very active, especially SOS Slaves and the
Initiative for the Resurgence of the Struggle against Slavery (IRSS),
which supports victims in court.
told reporters she had obtained a commitment from the government to
appoint lawyers specifically trained to represent slaves in the courts,
however, rather than leaving the work to charities.
praised the "political will displayed by the authorities" in
introducing anti-slavery legislation but called for better enforcement
of the law.
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is in the process of setting up a special
tribunal to prosecute suspects accused of involvement in slavery and
various social security programmes have helped former slaves in the
But the beneficiaries were never recognised as such, with schemes officially targeting other disadvantaged groups.
In March last year Mauritania announced the launch of its first government agency charged explicitly with helping former slaves.
the train is certainly in motion, much needs to be improved, but as
long as the will is there, the rest will follow in time," Shahinian
envoy, a lawyer with extensive experience as an expert consultant on
children's rights, migration and trafficking, was appointed as the
first Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery in 2008.
Her findings and recommendations will be presented at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in September.
Thursday, August 4, 2005
Military junta overthrows Mauritania's president
Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya seized power in a 1984 coup.
By AHMED MOHAMED
The Associated Press
NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA – A military junta overthrew Mauritania's U.S.-allied president Wednesday, prompting celebrations in this oil-rich Islamic nation that has been looking to the West amid alleged threats from al-Qaida- linked militants.
The junta promised to yield to democratic rule within two years, but African leaders and the United States were quick to condemn the coup, saying that the days of authoritarianism and military rule must end across the continent.
President Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya, who himself seized power in a 1984 coup and dealt ruthlessly with his opponents, was out of the country when presidential guardsmen cut broadcasts from the national radio and television stations and seized a building housing the army chief of staff headquarters.
Later, the junta named the national police chief, Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, 55, as the country's new leader.
Its statement identified Vall as "president" of the military council that seized power.
Taya, who had allied his overwhelmingly Muslim nation with the United States in the war on terrorism, refused comment after arriving Wednesday in nearby Niger from Saudi Arabia, where he attended King Fahd's funeral.
The State Department joined the African Union in calling for the restoration of the government.
"We call for a peaceful return for order under the constitution and the established government of President Taya," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in Washington.
The junta said it would exercise power for up to two years to allow time to put in place "open and transparent" democratic institutions.
Oil recently was discovered in reserves offshore, and Mauritania is expected to begin pumping crude for the first time early next year.
Hundreds of people celebrated the coup in the city center, saluting soldiers guarding the presidential palace, clapping and singing anti-Taya slogans in Arabic.
"It's the end of a long period of oppression and injustice," civil servant Fidi Kane said. "We are very delighted with this change of regime."
State television and radio were back on air by afternoon, with journalists reading the junta's statement repeatedly, interspersed with Quranic readings - normal in the Islamic nation.
Taya had survived several coup attempts, including one in 2003 that led to days of fighting in the capital.
After that, he jailed scores of members of Muslim fundamentalist groups and the army accused of plotting to overthrow him. His government also has accused opponents of training with al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Algeria.
A June 4 border raid by al-Qaida-linked insurgents sparked a gunbattle that killed 15 Mauritanian troops and nine attackers.
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