clearn.png
Tuesday March 26th, 2019 4:56AM

US, rights groups pressure Mauritania over slavery

By The Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — International rights groups are urging Mauritania to release anti-slavery activists, as the United States has announced it will end trade benefits to the West African country over the continuation of slavery.

Amnesty International and 32 other human rights organizations on Thursday called for the release of 35-year-old blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, who remains in custody in an undisclosed location, with limited access to his family and no access to his lawyers.

Mkhaitir was initially arrested in January 2014 after he published a blog that spoke of slavery and discrimination, including against the blacksmith caste, which he belongs to, according to Amnesty International. He was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death in December 2014. An appeals court later reduced his punishment to two years imprisonment, which he has served. However, he has not yet been released.

More than 150 cases of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders have been recorded by Amnesty International since 2014. Amnesty called on Mauritania's financial and technical partners to apply more pressure to end slavery in the country.

Early this year, The African Union ruled the West African nation has not enforced its own anti-slavery laws after it passed out a lenient sentence to slave owners.

The U.S. in its statement this month said Mauritania is not making sufficient progress toward combating forced labor, including slavery. As a result, it said it will end Mauritania's trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which permits some duty-free trade.

"Forced or compulsory labor practices like hereditary slavery have no place in the 21st century," said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney. "This action underscores this administration's commitment to ending modern slavery and enforcing labor provisions in our trade laws and trade agreements. We hope Mauritania will work with us to eradicate forced labor and hereditary slavery so that its AGOA eligibility may be restored in the future."

Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery in 1981, though the practice remains. The 2018 Global Slavery Index indicates that 90,000 people still live as slaves in Mauritania.

The Mauritanian government, however, denies that slavery is widespread in the country.

"Mauritania has made great efforts to eradicate the aftermath of slavery and has achieved undoubtedly significant results in this regard," the government said in a statement.

It said the U.S. decision is motivated by misinformation, and that the government hopes that the Trump administration will reconsider its decision.

U.S. imports from Mauritania of fish, fertilizers and mineral fuels were more than $61 million in 2017.

Francois Patuel, West Africa researcher for Amnesty International, said that while the group cannot take a position on sanctions, "we encourage Mauritania's financial and technical partners to continue to raise the issues of the persistence of slavery, discrimination and reprisals against human rights defenders during political dialogues."

He called on technical and financial partners to call on Mauritania to bring suspected slave owners to justice and "to create a safe and supportive environment for activists."

"Mauritania gets a lot of support because it is considered a key ally on the war on terror, both by the U.S. government and European governments," said Patuel. "We've been telling them to make sure this isn't used as a carte blanche for authorities to do what they want without repercussions."

He said dialogue and pressure are needed to eradicate slavery. Patuel also warned: "To be coherent, the U.S. should stop deporting individuals to Mauritania where they would face discrimination and arrests."

___

AP reporter Ahmed Mohamed in Nouakchott, Mauritania contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Williams runs wild, Texas A&M routs NC State 52-13 in Gator
Trayveon Williams ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns, smashing a 30-year-old school record and carrying No. 21 Texas A&M to a 52-13 victory against beat North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl
11:09PM ( 5 days ago )
Harden's 43 points, triple-double lead Rockets over Memphis
James Harden had a triple-double of 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to their fifth straight win, 113-101, over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night
10:53PM ( 5 days ago )
Deadline passes without Russian turnover of data to WADA
Deadline passes without Russian turnover of data, samples to WADA
10:43PM ( 5 days ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hello, 2019: Revelry, reflection mark transition to new year
Goodbye, 2018: Revelry, reflection mark the transition to a new year
9:50PM ( 5 days ago )
The Latest: House Dems unveil plan to re-open government
House Democrats have unveiled a package of bills that would re-open the federal government without approving funding for President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico
9:31PM ( 5 days ago )
Taiwan's Tsai says Taiwanese want to maintain self-rule
Taiwan's leader says that the people of her island want to maintain self-rule despite recent electoral gains by the Beijing-friendly opposition party
9:18PM ( 5 days ago )
AP World News
US stocks end dismal, volatile year on a bright note
Wall Street closed out a dismal, turbulent year for stocks on a bright note Monday, but still finished 2018 with the worst showing in a decade.
9:52PM ( 5 days ago )
Animal advocates: Fatal zoo mauling shows need for crackdown
Animal welfare advocates say fatal mauling of intern illustrates need to crack down on unaccredited exhibitors
9:36PM ( 5 days ago )
Prosecutors: Fires may mean PG&E violated criminal sentence
Federal prosecutors say a California utility's role in igniting wildfires last year could allow a judge to find that it violated terms of its criminal conviction in a deadly gas pipeline explosion
9:13PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Business
Markets Right Now: Stocks end dismal year on a bright note
The stock market ended a miserable year on a positive note but still closed out 2018 with its worst showing in a decade.
4:16PM ( 5 days ago )
US stocks hold modest gain on final day of volatile year
Stocks are moving higher as Wall Street draws closer to ending the final day of trading in a volatile year
3:53PM ( 5 days ago )
US stocks edge higher on hopes of US-China trade resolution
Stocks are moving higher on Wall Street as investors hold out new hope for progress in U.S.-China trade frictions
12:48PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Business - Economy
Finland wins world junior hockey title, beating US 3-2
Kaapo Kakko beat goalie Cayden Primeau on a backhander off a rebound with 1:26 left to give Finland its fifth world junior hockey title, 3-2 over the United States
11:39PM ( 6 minutes ago )
No. 6 Nevada struggles in 85-58 loss to New Mexico
No. 6 Nevada shut down by New Mexico in 85-58 loss
10:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP source: Britton, Yankees agree to $39M, 3-year contract
A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that reliever Zach Britton and the New York Yankees have agreed to a $39 million, three-year contract
9:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
Luck has 2 TDs to lead Colts over Texans 21-7 in wild card
Andrew Luck threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns as the Indianapolis Colts raced out to a big lead and cruised to a 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in the wild-card game on Saturday
9:39PM ( 2 hours ago )
Warren tests anti-corruption theme to cheers in Iowa debut
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is introducing herself to influential Iowa Democrats by telling her personal story of economic opportunity
9:37PM ( 2 hours ago )