Mauritania: NPWJ strongly condemns arrest of prominent anti-slavery activist Biram Abeid on eve of legislative elections

9 Aug, 2018 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 9 August 2018

On Tuesday 7 August 2018, Biram Dah Abeid, prominent anti-slavery activist and leader of Mauritania’s Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, was arrested at his home in the capital, Nouakchott, and imprisoned in the southern part of the city. Mauritanian authorities have so far provided no information on the reasons for his arrest. Mr Abeid has been arrested multiple times for his activism and had last been released in May 2016, after having spent 20 months of a 2-year sentence on false charges of “inciting trouble” and belonging to an “unrecognized organisation”.

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) firmly condemns the arrest and detention of prominent anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid on eve of legislative elections to be held next month and for which he will run as candidate. We express our undiminished solidarity with and support for Mr Abeid, a recipient of the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Prize and internationally renowned for fighting against the caste-based slavery in Mauritania.

We urge the Mauritanian authorities to immediately put an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society organisations in Mauritania, including the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement. Instead of using the judicial system to intimidate and silence them, they should recognise the legitimacy of their work aimed at putting an end to slavery and discrimination in the country.

Despite Mauritania has passed domestic laws to stamp out slavery and punish its perpetrators, the practice – that particularly targets the Haratin community –  not only is still deeply-ingrained and tolerated across all the country, but also sustained and promoted by elites and government. Civil society organisations such as IRA campaigning against slavery have often faced undue restrictions from the authorities to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association.

For further information, please contact Nicola Giovannini (