Justice for Moussa and Abdellahi - FreedomUnited.org

Justice for Moussa and Abdellahi

  1. Photo credit: IRA-Mauritania. View our partners in this campaign.

For over a year, Mauritanian anti-slavery activists Moussa Bilal Biram and Abdellahi Matalla Saleck have been held in a Saharan desert prison in Bir Moghrein. The prison, more commonly used to house death row inmates, is in an unsafe remote region of the country, 1,200km away from the capital city of Nouakchott where they live. Whilst in detention, Moussa and Abdellahi have reportedly been tortured and have injuries consistent with being bound in painful positions for hours at a time.1

Why are Moussa and Abdellahi suffering in a remote prison with no realistic possibility of visits by their lawyers or loved ones? Simply for speaking out against slavery.

They have been convicted of, among other charges, incitement of riots and violent rebellion against the government. However, no evidence of these crimes was provided at trial.2

We believe that the authorities are targeting Abdellahi and Moussa because they are leading members of the Mauritanian anti-slavery organization the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA). Moussa and Abdellahi are innocent and should never have been detained, charged or convicted of these crimes but are being persecuted as anti-slavery activists. Their case has recently been referred to Mauritania’s Supreme Court and is awaiting scheduling.

We call on Mauritania’s Minister of Justice to immediately relocate Moussa and Abdellahi to a prison in the capital Nouakchott, pending their Supreme Court hearing, which should grant them immediate and unconditional release.

 Since IRA was founded in 2008, the Mauritanian government has refused to legitimize the group’s work to end slavery and regularly arrests its members on a variety of specious charges, such as belonging to an unrecognized organization.3

This isn’t the first time that the Mauritanian government has tried to silence anti-slavery activists. In 2014, many of you supported our campaign for the release of IRA President, anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid. Nearly 400,000 Freedom United supporters like you took part and our support and pressure to revisit his case made a huge impact!4 Mauritania’s Supreme Court ruled in Biram’s favor in May 2016 and he was freed.

Relocating Moussa and Abdellahi to a safer prison near Nouakchott is just the first step on the path to justice for these men. They are innocent of these bogus crimes and their detainment, especially to a region like Bir Moghrein, is targeted and completely unwarranted. We ultimately want to see Abdellahi and Moussa fully exonerated and released.

International pressure can make a real impact on activists’ right to speak out in Mauritania. If we can leverage global pressure for Moussa and Abdellahi’s case, the Minister of Justice will know the world is watching – creating a safer organizing space for other activists working to end slavery and caste-discrimination in Mauritania. That’s why it’s more important now than ever that we stand up for Moussa and Abdellahi and get them relocated ahead of their Supreme Court hearing so that they have access to their lawyers and families, and receive the care they need.

Mauritania became the final country in the world to abolish slavery by presidential order in 1981 but it took a long time before criminal laws were passed to curb the daily practice of slavery. Due to global pressure, Mauritania finally passed a law in 20075 punishing those who hold other people as property and then strengthened the law in 2015, but it has rarely been enforced. Anti-slavery activists in Mauritania continue to live in fear that if they work openly, they will face the same persecution as Moussa and Abdellahi.

Will you join us in calling on the Mauritanian government to relocate Moussa and Abdellahi while awaiting their Supreme Court hearing – the body with the power to order their immediate release?

  • July 12, 2018: Fantastic news! Moussa and Abdellahi have finally been released from detention. Over 32,000 Freedom United supporters have joined the call for Moussa and Abdellahi’s freedom since November 2017 – thank you!

  • January 2018: Representatives of an EU delegation to Mauritania visited Moussa and Abdellahi in prison. This is a positive step towards ensuring Moussa and Abdellahi receive regular visits and that the conditions under which they are detained are decent.

  • January 2018: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention announced on December 21 that they find the detention of ten Mauritanian activists, including Moussa and Abdellahi, to be in violation of international law. Click here to read the report.

  • Nov 02, 2017: Campaign Launches

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Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

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Steffi Wieland
5 years ago

Slavery has tödlich stop. Also with animals. We all feel. many animals are prisoned.for the greed of people. And this is normal today. Sad world. Speak out for the so-called farm animals, victims of the ideology speciesism, it’s discriminination and violence against animals is not necessary anymore.
Go vegan andere stop supporting sexism, racism or speciesism and all kinds of slavery.

jjanice ledebur
jjanice ledebur
5 years ago

This imprisonment of Moussa and Abdellahi is not the mark of a strong, confident government. This makes your government look weak, scared,unjust, indifferent to the welfare it’s people, cruel.

5 years ago

People who oppose slavery are no threat to a law-abiding and democratic society – so set them free!

5 years ago

They quickly implemented all kinds of laws regarding money with the FIKA or FISA act but they cannot curb slavery, please………..??
All UN member states are under the obligation to end such things as slavery under the act, and this is just another double standard as it so clearly shows with Israel that has taken 80% of Palestinian land. They can sanction Russia for rumors on meddling with elections but they cannot sanction countries who support slavery?
This is all by design !

Godfrey Harrison
Godfrey Harrison
5 years ago

With all due respect to your country’s administration it is difficult to understand why those who oppose slavery and act to try to end it find themselves prisoners imprisoned and in a jail that keeps them far from where they have resources to defend themselves.

This Campaign made an impact with 32,635 supporters!

Please read our field report with summary and outcome


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