Rare Slavery Ruling in Mauritania Sends Three to Prison - FreedomUnited.org

Rare Slavery Ruling in Mauritania Sends Three to Prison

  • Published on
    March 31, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Law & Policy
Hero Banner

Mauritania has sentenced two men to 20 years in prison and one woman to 10 years in prison for enslaving their fellow citizens. These three rulings are extraordinary in the West African country, which has exceptionally few prosecutions for slavery.

A special court in the town of Nouadhibou handed down the verdict to a man named Saleck Ould Oumar, who died before the case concluded, and his son. They were found guilty of “reducing to slavery” a family and their two children.

The woman, Ar-Rabiaa Mint Hammadi, was jailed for enslaving three sisters who she claimed she treated as her own family — though she never paid them for their work.

The prosecutor rejected her defense, saying that “there are not two kinds slavery – gentle and harsh – slavery is a crime.”

News 24 reports:

Officially, slavery was outlawed in Mauritania in 1981 but campaigners say it remains a bastion of the practice.

A hereditary system of servitude forces members of the “slave” caste to work without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants, despite the official ban.

In 2015, Mauritania adopted a new law declaring slavery a “crime against humanity” punishable by up to 20 years in jail, compared with a maximum of 10 years previously.

It also set up three specialised anti-slavery tribunals in Nouadhibou, the capital Noukachott and in the southeastern town of Nema.

Anti-slavery campaigners welcomed the verdicts as a sign of progress in the country.

“The trial went ahead smoothly, respecting the rules, and the law has been upheld,” said a lawyer for the victims, El-Id Ould Mohameden, who added “there is now hope for normalising the humanitarian situation in the country.”

Boubacar Ould Messaoud from anti-slavery association SOS Esclavage agreed. He said several similar cases “have been pending for several years” at the three anti-slavery courts, but that he has received assurances from the authorities that “these cases will be reactivated.”


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.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kathleen conroy
kathleen conroy
5 years ago

About time. This is a good start. Lets hope it continues

pascal molineaux
5 years ago

Mauritania is Finally taking the fight against modern day slavery seriously. We applaud such a firm decision.

5 years ago

It is an encouraging start in a country where slavery is such a common practice.

5 years ago

It’s about time for those slave owners to face the music, where the law has punished them appropriately for their heinous crimes of enslaving others. It’s sad but so true when some people feel the need to create harsh living conditions for others, who they do not even treat with the dignity of paying them for the work the do. I hope, this will not be the last ones, who will be punished for their enslavement policies………Great

David Hardiingham
David Hardiingham
5 years ago

good it has to start somewhere

This week

Passing of CSDDD blocked – human rights in danger

What could have been a day to celebrate, has turned into a day full of disappointment. On February 28, 2024, the European Council blocked the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) after the vote had been postponed due to insufficient support, as reported by Reuters. Thirteen out of the 27 member states voted against the law or abstained from the vote, leaving the ‘qualified majority' of 15 countries short of one. A timeline of

| Wednesday February 28, 2024

Read more