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Mauritania: 10 anti-slavery activists released

Mauritanian anti-slavery activists

People hold a banner reading "No to slavery" during a demonstration against discrimination in Nouakchott on April 29, 2015. Thousands of descendants of Moorish slaves in Mauritania, known as the "Haratin", protested in Nouakchott on the evening of April 29 against discrimination and to demand justice and equality for the Haratin. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER / AFP PHOTO / -

In response to today’s Appeal Court ruling in Mauritania that acquitted and ordered the release of three anti-slavery activists, and reduced the sentence of 10 others – including seven who will now be released as they have served their sentence – Kiné Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner, said: 

“The release of three anti-slavery activists who had been unfairly sentenced to up to 15 years for peacefully expressing their opinions is a huge relief for them, their families and for all those who have been campaigning for an end to the brutal crackdown on human rights defenders in Mauritania.” 

“However the fact that the appeal court still convict 10 of them and three activists remain in jail represents distressing sign of the shrinking space that human rights activists and civil society organizations are facing in Mauritania. It is even more appalling that the Court’s ruling ignored the serious allegations of torture that were made by the defendants and that no investigation has yet been launched.”

“The authorities should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of all groups working against slavery and discrimination, including the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, and ensure that the criminal justice system is no longer used to target and harass those who defend human rights.’’

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