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SDIR Committee News Release

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Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Sous-comité des droits internationaux de la personne du Comité permanent des affaires étrangères et du développement international

For immediate release


NEWS RELEASE


SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN MAURITANIA

Ottawa, June 17, 2015 -

The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development today adopted a motion about slavery and human trafficking in Mauritania. The motion reads as follows:

Whereas, on 1 November 2014, Biram Dah Abeid, a leading Mauritanian anti-slavery activist and founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, was arrested following a peaceful anti-slavery march;

Whereas Biram Dah Abeid has been charged with calling for a demonstration, participating in a demonstration and belonging to an illegal organisation, and whereas some reports suggest that he is at risk of facing the death penalty;

Whereas other anti-slavery campaigners have also been arrested and detained;

Whereas, although officially abolished in 1981 and criminalised in 2007, the practice of slavery persists in Mauritania;

Whereas, according to the Global Slavery Index 2014, Mauritania has a higher proportion of its population enslaved than any other country in the world, and some figures estimate the rate of enslavement at 20%;

Whereas, Mauritania has ratified conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

That the Subcommittee:

Condemn the arrest and ongoing detention of anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid and his fellow campaigners, and call for their immediate release;

Express concern about reports of violence used against activists, and urge Mauritanian authorities to prosecute those officials who have been involved in the abuse and torture of prisoners;

Condemn all forms of slavery in the strongest possible terms, and specifically condemn the high prevalence of slavery, slavery-related practices and the trafficking of human beings within Mauritania;

Call on the Canadian government to join with other members of the international community to combat slavery and human trafficking in Mauritania, and around the world.

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For more information, please contact:
Mike MacPherson, Clerk of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Tel: 613-995-8525
E-mail: SDIR@parl.gc.ca