Mauritania Highlights

The Islamic Republic Mauritania



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General Information

Mauritania is part of the unseen Africa. This is where Africa starts. (forget Morocco, it has nothing to do with Africa, it is just part of southern Europe) Amazing and not very well known, but modern-day slavery still exist in Mauritania! (And it is suggested thousands are still enslaved). In fact, it was legal to have slaves until 2007. However, in 2010 a report released showed the government did not do enough to enforce the anti-slavery law; in fact until 2010 no one was charged with having slaves. First case was in Jan 2011 when someone was charged with owning slaves, he received just 6 months jail. During our visit (2011) is was estimated that between 500000 and 680000 people lived in slavery. Even in 2018 this figure was still at around 100000. The great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive devastation in Mauritania, exacerbating problems of poverty and conflict. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a build-up of foreign debt. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. Gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. Most of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. The Abdallahi government was widely perceived as corrupt and restricted access to government information. Sexism, racism, female genital mutilation, child labour, human trafficking of largely southern-based ethnic groups continued to be problems. Homosexuality is illegal and is a capital offense in Mauritania. Amnesty International has said that the Mauritanian government has practiced institutionalized and continuous use of torture throughout its post-independence history, under all its leaders. This included mistreatment of detainees and prisoners; security force impunity; lengthy pretrial detention; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests; limits on freedom of the press, corruption; discrimination against women; female genital mutilation, child marriage, slavery and slavery-related practices and child labor.