Mauritania to UN Watch: No slavery in the country?

Of course they surely jest? But first let’s read both submissions to the UN.

Published  Here

September 16, 2013

This morning, Mauritania’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council responded to UN Watch and rejected the wide-spread and well-documented persistence of slavery in the country. Below is the speech as well as the country’s response. Mauritania currently serves a 3-year term at the HRC and is the Council’s Vice-President.

UN Watch Statement
UN Human Rights Council, 24th Session
Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights

Delivered by Karoline Ronning
16 September 2013

 Thank you, Mr. President.

Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that no one shall be held in slavery, and that slavery is prohibited in all its forms.

Yet an estimated 27 million people worldwide still live in conditions of forced bondage, and every year at least 700,000 people are trafficked across borders and into slavery.

In the world today, nowhere is slavery so systematically practiced as in Mauritania, a country that is an elected member of this Human Rights Council.

As unfathomable as it may sound, some 20 percent of Mauritanians, about 600,000 people belonging to the darker-skinned black African minority, live as slaves.

According to Abidine Merzough, a man born in Mauritania as a slave, and who is now the European coordinator of an anti-slavery NGO, Sharia is used to justify this system.

He testified at this year’s Geneva Summit for Human Rights, saying the following:

The situation is every bit as bad as it was in apartheid South Africa, and in many ways it is worse. Officially, the Mauritanian authorities have abolished slavery on five separate occasions. But in reality, it exists exactly as before, backed up by Imams and other clergy who write laws and issue Fatwas justifying slavery.

From early on, people are taught in religious schools that slaves are the masters’ properties, who are passed along as inheritance and where the condition of slavery is transmitted from parent to child, where women slaves must submit their bodies to their masters.

Mr. President, we ask: how can this country, Mauritania, be a member of this Council?

Thank you, Mr. President.


Mauritania’s response

MauritaniaThank you Mr. President,

We are exercising our right to reply with regard to what was said by UN Watch.

UN Watch said a large number of persons in Mauritania live in a state of slavery. We reject those allegations and we would like to say that in Mauritania we have had practices of slavery like other countries, but our authorities have been conducting a war against those practices.

We have adopted laws which incriminate that phenomenon, because slavery is a crime against humanity and it has no statute of limitations. It cannot be said that legislation in Mauritania favors slavery. Islam is at the source of our legislation and Islam came to free mankind from slavery.

What was said as an allegation by that organization is totally false.

We are against attacks on our reputation, that is the reputation of Mauritania. For that reason, we invite the international community to visit Mauritania, to see what the real situation is in our country, so as not to be misled by such information as we heard today.


With figures like these how can they deny it exists. Do what I did. Search

“Slavery Mauritania” 

The hits keep coming. Not outdated ones, newly written articles and exposés from well known reliable sources. This from a country where the original slave trade started.

This is an excellent source of information and very interesting

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

A review of the triangular trade with reference to maps and statistics.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began around the mid-fifteenth century when Portuguese interests in Africa moved away from the fabled deposits of gold to a much more readily available commodity — slaves. By the seventeenth century the trade was in full swing, reaching a peak towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was a trade which was especially fruitful, since every stage of the journey could be profitable for merchants — the infamous triangular trade.

Slave exports

Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants. (There were occasional military campaigns organized by Europeans to capture slaves, especially by the Portuguese in what is now Angola, but this accounts for only a small percentage of the total.)

It appears it hasn’t stopped since. This below is one of many such heart wrenching reports.

Sickening. UN Watch is quite correct and the representative from Mauritania is far from honest

Slavery’s last stronghold: link

Mauritania’s endless sea of sand dunes hides an open secret: An estimated 10% to 20% of the population lives in slavery. But as one woman’s journey shows, the first step toward freedom is realizing you’re enslaved.

Moulkheir Mint Yarba returned from a day of tending her master’s goats out on the Sahara Desert to find something unimaginable: Her baby girl, barely old enough to crawl, had been left outdoors to die.

The usually stoic mother — whose jet-black eyes and cardboard hands carry decades of sadness — wept when she saw her child’s lifeless face, eyes open and covered in ants, resting in the orange sands of the Mauritanian desert. The master who raped Moulkheir to produce the child wanted to punish his slave. He told her she would work faster without the child on her back.

Trying to pull herself together, Moulkheir asked if she could take a break to give her daughter a proper burial. Her master’s reply: Get back to work.

“Her soul is a dog’s soul,” she recalls him saying.

Later that day, at the cemetery,

“We dug a shallow grave and buried her in her clothes, without washing her or giving her burial rites.”

“I only had my tears to console me,” she would later tell anti-slavery activists, according to a written testimony. “I cried a lot for my daughter and for the situation I was in. Instead of understanding, they ordered me to shut up. Otherwise, they would make things worse for me — so bad that I wouldn’t be able to endure it.”

Slavery: Mauritania – The story of Moulkheir Mint Yarba


Moulkheir Mint Yarba escaped from slavery in 2010. She was born into slavery and never knew her parents. “I think my master killed them,” she told IRIN, though they may have been enslaved to other families. Yarba was repeatedly beaten and raped by her master, bearing seven children by him, one of which her owners killed, she says, to punish her. In 2007 just after the law was passed, Yarba was passed on to another family, who continued to beat her and her children, and raped her daughter. Her daughter fell pregnant by her master who then forcibly aborted the pregnancy.

Yarba’s brother learned of her whereabouts and informed SOS Esclaves, who drove to the location, and called on the local police to intervene. They did, freeing Yarba and all of her children though their owner tried to stop them.

Life is easier now for Yarba. She used to wake at 4am to start her chores and look after the animals, and she highly values her freedom. The Commission for Human Rights helps pay for her children’s education, the family’s medical expenses, basic food needs and rent, while SOS Esclaves has trained her to sew and dye clothes to raise a little income. But deep scars remain, and her daughter, who suffered severe beating and rape from a young age, remains visibly traumatized. “I want to put all of this history behind me,” said her daughter.

Yarba’s dream now is to see her children succeed.

“My dream is for my children to grow up and do well so they can look after me,” she told IRIN.

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