[JURIST] An independent UN human rights expert on Friday commended [press release] Mauritania for adopting a new law that establishes harsher sentences for slavery crimes, urging full implementation. The law adopted last week by the Mauritanian National Assembly doubles prison terms for slavery convictions, declared slavery a crime against humanity, and created tribunals to handle slavery prosecution cases. UN Special Rapporteur Urmila Bhoola [official profile] said that the law is an important step on a road map toward eradicating slavery but insisted that “slavery and slavery-like practices can be eradicated only if the existing laws, policies and programs are implemented fully and effectively. This statement comes just one day after a court in Mauritania upheld [Reuters report] a two-year prison sentence for an anti-slavery activist convicted of inciting trouble and belonging to an unrecognized organization.
Approximately 36 million people in the world live in a form of modern slavery [JURIST report], the Global Slavery Index (GSI) [advocacy website] reported 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.