Amnesty: Mauritania must release jailed anti-slavery activists
Amnesty: Mauritania must release jailed anti-slavery activists

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called Thursday for the release of three anti-slavery activists [press release] who were jailed in Mauritania. One of the jailed activists is prominent opposition politician Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, who was the runner-up in June’s presidential elections. The former presidential candidate is also the president of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and won a UN Human Rights Prize in 2013. The three activists were given two-year sentences after being convicted of membership of an unrecognized organization and of taking part in an unauthorized assembly. The court acquitted seven other activists. Protesters outside the courthouse demonstrating against the judgment were dispersed by police with batons and tear gas. The IRA members that were arrested were engaged in a peaceful campaign to raise awareness about land rights for people of slave descent. Slave descendants who work on the land do not have any rights and must give a portion of their crops to their traditional masters. Police broke up the peaceful IRA meeting due to the absence of documents authorizing the group to meet, despite the fact that the IRA had requested the documents. AI called the sentence “politically motivated.”

Approximately 36 million people in the world live in a form of modern slavery [JURIST report], the Global Slavery Index (GSI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] in November. For the purposes of the study, GSI defined modern slavery as involving “one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.” The data found within the 2014 report was based on random sampling surveys which GSI claims used an improved methodology to uncover statistics of modern slavery that have been previously unknown. The report also provided an analysis of how governments are working to eliminate acts of modern slavery within their countries and which nations are vulnerable to continued human rights violations. GSI found that countries with government instability and high levels of prejudice have the highest levels of modern slavery and are the most vulnerable.