Mauritanian authorities restrict freedom of speech and assembly especially to muzzle criticism of Mauritania’s record on slavery and discrimination based on caste or ethnicity. The death penalty is mandatory for “blasphemous speech” and acts deemed “sacrilegious.” The penal code prohibits homosexual conduct between Muslim adults and punishes it with death for males, although few persons have been prosecuted for homosexuality. Mauritania has for many years observed a de facto moratorium on executions. While the government has criminalized slavery, human rights and anti-slavery groups denounce its persistence and the plight of the large number of former slaves and their descendants who live in extreme poverty and are marginalized. Child marriage, female genital mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence endure. Legal mechanisms to combat sexual violence are weak.