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West African nation of Mauritania should take broader steps to stop slavery

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
2/28/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Four percent of Mauritania's population is in forced labor

While the West African nation of Mauritania has made progress towards fighting slavery, much still remains to be done to eliminate it completely, and an U.N. human rights expert said on Thursday. Mauritania has outlawed slavery, but the Global Slavery Index estimates that about 150,000 people out of that nation's population, or four percent, remain slaves.

In Mauritania, a country which straddles both black and Arab Africa, slavery is a historical practice. Slavery here primarily takes the form of chattel slavery, whereby adult slaves and their children are the property of their masters.

In Mauritania, a country which straddles both black and Arab Africa, slavery is a historical practice. Slavery here primarily takes the form of chattel slavery, whereby adult slaves and their children are the property of their masters.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
2/28/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Mauritania, West Africa, slavery, United Nations


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Estimates by other groups are at an ever higher rate, at around 20 percent.

"I commend the government of Mauritania for the measures taken since my last mission in 2009 and for its commitment to ending slavery in the country," Gulnara Shahinian, U.N. Special Rapporteur on slavery, said during a four-day visit.

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"However, the government still has to turn its pledges into deeds and to take more vigorous measures with a view to eliminating slavery and to fully implement the laws and policies."

In Mauritania, a country which straddles both black and Arab Africa, slavery is a historical practice. Slavery here primarily takes the form of chattel slavery, whereby adult slaves and their children are the property of their masters.

The Mauritanian government has announced a special tribunal to prosecute cases at the end of this coming December.

Shahinian has noted the low number of prosecutions and said a 2007 act criminalizing the practice should be amended to give better protection for recognized slaves.

Adding that the government should also publish recently ratified anti-slavery conventions, Shahinian says that "in order to raise awareness that all work should be entered into freely and respect the fundamental rights of the human person."

Boubacar Messaoud, president of NGO SOS Esclaves, said that it would take a huge effort to root out slavery as it now forms part of the population's "basic education".

"The Mauritanians are not honest with themselves about slavery. Their traditions and customs are supportive of slavery and unequal. Organizations like the United Nations can help but it's up to each person to lead a personal revolution."

According to the Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, slavery in Africa has not only existed throughout the continent for many centuries, but continues in the current day. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of the continent, as they were in much of the ancient world. In most African societies where slavery was prevalent, the enslaved people were not treated as chattel slaves and were given certain rights in a system similar to indentured servitude elsewhere in the world. When the Arab slave trade and Atlantic slave trade began, many of the local slave systems changed and began supplying captives for slave markets outside of Africa.

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