Mauritania

Mauritanian authorities restrict freedom of speech and assembly especially to muzzle criticism of Mauritania’s record on slavery, discrimination based on caste or ethnicity, impunity for past state-sponsored atrocities, and the president’s intolerance of dissent. Individuals are prosecuted under loosely interpreted laws criminalizing “incitement of racial hatred” and religious offenses. The death penalty is mandatory for “blasphemous speech” and acts deemed “sacrilegious,” although 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. Difficulty in obtaining national ID documents is an obstacle to accessing basic social services. Child marriage, female genital mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence endure. Legal mechanisms to combat sexual violence are weak.