Mauritanien: Sag mod aktivister sætter spot på lov mod slaveri

Forfatter billede

6 antislaveri- aktiviser er bag tremmer i Mautritanien. De har udfordret regeringen til at gøre en lov fra 2007, der gør slaveri til en forbrydelse, til andet end det papir, den er skrevet på.

NOUAKCHOTT, 4 January 2011 (IRIN): The 6 men, members of the Mauritanian anti-slavery group Initiative pour la résurgence du mouvement abolitioniste (IRA), are set to go on trial in the capital, Nouakchott, on Wednesday after 2 postponements. The authorities reportedly said the IRA members attacked security forces; the activists said they were simply demonstrating against slavery.

“We suspected that the 2007 law would not be put into effect,” Romana Cacchioli, Africa expert with Anti-Slavery International, told IRIN. “And indeed its application is not yet a reality. Cases that have been brought are either still in process but taking a long time or have not been pursued.”

The law makes keeping slaves a crime in Mauritania, but the practice continues. The NGO SOS Esclaves says nearly a fifth of Mauritania’s 3,1 million people were slaves as of 2009.

On 13 December the 6 activists were arrested while protesting in front of a Nouakchott police station; the activists were calling for the group’s leader to attend the questioning of two girls – aged nine and 13 – allegedly kept as slaves.

The 2007 law – adopted unanimously by Mauritania’s National Assembly – criminalized slavery. But to date, according to IRA and SOS Esclaves, no one has been prosecuted for keeping slaves.

Human rights and anti-slavery activists expressed concern in 2007 that the law alone was insufficient, saying the government must adopt measures to ensure the law would be effective.

Activists said part of the difficulty in criminalizing slavery is that it is so widely practised.

But also, former slave Haby Rabah told IRIN, many people in slavery do not know their rights or are afraid to leave.