Slavery in Mauritania

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Slavery in Mauritania is an entrenched phenomenon the national government has repeatedly tried to abolish, banning the practice in 1905, 1981, and August 2007.12 The descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery now live in Mauritania as "blacks" or haratin and some of them still serve the brown-skinned "Moors" (Berbers or mixed Berber-Arabs, collectively known as al-bidhaan).

The number of slaves in the country is estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population 34 of 3,069,000 people. Even though slavery is illegal, sociologist Kevin Bales believes that Mauritania is the country with the largest proportion of its population in slavery.5

Mauritanian organizations like Al'Hor الحر (translated as "the free"), In'itaq إنعتاق (translated as "emancipation") and SOS Esclaves (meaning "SOS Slaves" in French) work against slavery.

A United Nations mission, headed by UN Special Rapporteur and mission leader Gulnara Shahinian, was in Mauritania in November 2009 to evaluate slavery practices in the country.6 The mission's findings were presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in August 2010.


  1. ^ "Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law". BBC News. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  2. ^ Corrigan, Terence (6 September 2007). "Mauritania: Country Made Slavery Illegal Last Month". The East African Standard. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  3. ^ Millions 'forced into slavery' BBC News, 27 May 2002
  4. ^ The Abolition season on BBC World Service
  5. ^ Akhil Patel, Review of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 3, August 2000
  6. ^ ANI and Journal Tahalil reported on 2 November 2009

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