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Tell Mauritania to Free Imprisoned Anti-Slavery Activists

This petition made change with 291 supporters!

Slavery has been illegal in Mauritania in 2007, but the laws against slavery are rarely enforced. That's why a growing group of activists are demanding that the Mauritanian government actually enforce the ban on slavery and hold human traffickers accountable. But six of these activists have now been imprisoned for asking the police to investigate allegations of child trafficking.

Anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid and several colleagues have been imprisoned in Mauritania since December 13, after they protested outside a police station. Prior to their arrests, Abeid had escorted two girls, ages 9 and 13, to the police to report what they had told him -- that they had been forced to work as servants. However, the woman whom they accused of trafficking them into domestic servitude was family to the local police commissioner. An argument that injured Abeid took place, and he and his colleagues were charged with assaulting a police officer. Now, the activists are awaiting trial and the possibility of a prison sentence intended to keep them from advocating for any more victims of slavery.

Sadly, situations like these are not unusual in Mauritania. Almost 40% of Mauritanians are slaves or have relatives who are slaves. And these men, women, and children are not just mistreated or underpaid -- they are slaves in the truest sense of the word. Despite a 2007 law which made slavery illegal in Mauritania, cultural, religious, and tribal practices continue to recognize the legal ownership of some human beings by others. And the government has yet to actually convict and sentence someone for the crime of slavery, despite growing reports from alleged victims.

Tell the UN and the Mauritanian government to free the imprisoned IRA activists and set up protections to ensure anti-slavery activists are safe to protect trafficking victims and demand justice for those who enslave them.

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