Mauritanian court to rule in slavery case
(InformAfrica) — A Mauritanian court will rule in the case of nine anti-slavery activists accused of “rebellion” on August 22, a judicial source said on Thursday.
“The magistrates court trying the nine activists began deliberation on Wednesday night. The verdict will be announced Monday,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
The nine members of an anti-slavery NGO appeared in court Wednesday charged with “unauthorised gathering and rebellion”, after they organised a sit-in protest against child enslavement.
The accused were arrested on August 4 during their protest in front of a Nouakchott police station against the enslavement of a 10-year-old girl.
They claimed the woman accused of keeping the child as a slave had been freed on the day of the protest, while the child was missing.
Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981 but it continued unabated and a law making enslavement punishable with up to 10 years in prison, introduced in 2007, has not been applied.
Human rights organisation Anti-Slavery International says on its website some 600,000 people are estimated to be enslaved in Mauritania.
In court the prosecutor demanded that eight of the defendants should be jailed for at least two years.
The ninth, accused of assaulting a police officer, deserves a three-year term, the prosecuting team added.
The defence lawyers called for their clients to be freed, saying they were only helping to apply the law by denouncing the enslavement of minors.
“Our clients should, on the contrary, be thanked for helping this crime to be uncovered,” one of those lawyers, Mohamed Ould Bilal, said.