In Mauritania, slavery is still a modern matter, supported by a long tradition. Arab-Berber nomads enslave Mauritanian haratins. Although the government holds the official view that the country is definitively free of slavery, the reality is quite different.

Mauritania Denies Slavery

In 2012, Rural Development Minister Brahim Ould M’Bareck Ould Med El Moctar told CNN that Mauritania is a completely free country. It promotes freedom of thought, equality between ethnic minorities and majorities, and between gender.

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Human rights activists face up to two years in prison for membership in non-governmental organizations and various human rights associations. While Mauritania officially strengthens the fight against slavery, anti-slavery activists remain in jail. These cases are highlighted by Amnesty International, which monitors the health and situation of detained activists.

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Biram Dah Abeid, president of the IRA Mauritania’s Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, spoke openly about the government’s response to the anti-slavery protests: “The Mauritanian authorities have responded to our peaceful protests with disproportionate intervention, imprisonment, and torture. The legal sector, court clerks, and other bourgeois class owns slaves. ”

How Many Slaves Are There in Mauritania?

Mauritania is a country where, according to some sources, tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of slaves live. The Global Slavery Index stated in 2018 that the number of slaves in Mauritania was around 90,000 (slightly over 2% of the country’s population.) The BBC reported in 2017 that about 600,000 slaves (13% of the population) lived in slavery.

How many slaves serve their masters in Mauritania? We can only assume the real numbers. One of the main reasons why slavery occurs is extreme poverty and ignorance. Try to find the breaking law in remote Sahara where often no roads lead. The chances of success are slim.