For years the Mauritanian government has denied allegations of the presence of modern day slavery in the nation. However, anti-slavery supporters would be pleased to know that the Mauritanian anti-slavery court has convicted two slave owners.
Last week, the slave owners Sidi Mohammed Ould Hanana and old Hlehana Ould Hmeyada who are 75 and 31 year old respectively were sentenced to five years in prison for owning slaves– 1 year would be served and the other four suspended.
The convicts will also compensate two victims Fatimetou Mint Hamdi and Fatimetou Mint Zaydih.
Although the special anti-slavery court was established in 2015, this is the first conviction and also the first case which has been completed.
“This is the first time that a trial has gone from start to finish and it really gives us hope in the months to come that we can make progress on other cases,” Mauritania’s national Coordinator for local NGO SOS Esclaves, Salimata Lam said to the Guardian.
The conviction indeed gives a glimmer of hope to Mauritanians who are pro anti slavery. They hope that the prosecution will be the beginning of the end of slavery in Mauritania.
The US also applauded the victory of the anti-slavery court in their rulings. US Ambassador to Mauritania Larry Andre said, “This is a significant development. It sends a clear message to people who deny freedom to others risk losing their own.”
Following the court’s ruling, two anti-slavery supporters, Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal who had been jailed for protesting against slavery in the country were released for having “no case to answer”. The two who are members of the Mauritanian Civil Society had been in prison for 20 months.
Contrary to what the Mauritanian government must have previously claimed, the west African country is plagued by the proliferation of slave owners.
Anti- slavery international claims that members of the Haratine community in Mauritania, are still in slavery. Most of them were born into slavery and are owned by White Moors, the tribal elite who control Mauritania.