15 January 2016
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has marked the first anniversary (15 January) of the conviction of Biram Dah Abeid, the Mauritanian anti-slavery campaigner and presidential candidate.
The party’s leader, Natalie Bennett has issued a call for the British and other governments around the world, and UN organisations, to step up pressure on Mauritania to release Biram and other campaigners and put into action promises to tackle slavery in the North-West African state, where 4% of the population are estimated to live in slavery.
“Slavery is clearly a persistent, extremely serious and widespread problem in Mauritania, despite its formal abolition in 1981. The UK and other governments should be calling on the president, Abdel Aziz, not just to make gestures aimed at the international community, but to acknowledge to his own people that the country has a major human rights issue with slavery and ensure effective, prompt action against it.
“Further, Biram Dah Abeid, winner of the UN Human Rights Prize, who was arrested and convicted for a peaceful protest against slavery and serfdom, and other anti-slavery campaigners, should be immediately released and their convictions quashed.
“Britain should also be calling on the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to enhance funding for civil society programmes in Mauritania to help free slaves and ensure they are able to build a free and independent life for themselves, including ensuring they are able to obtain full citizen status and papers.
“The UK should also be calling on Mauritania to withdraw its reservations to its ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), focusing on the situation of women held in slavery who can face the risk of the death penalty for adultery if they seek their freedom.”
“This isn’t simply a moral issue of speaking out against human rights abuses. It’s also an issue for British and global security. A genuinely democratic, human rights-respecting government in Mauritania is the only route to genuine stability and a prosperous future for the country, in which hundreds of thousands of people still face extreme poverty, political exclusion and slavery practices.”
More information about Biram Dah Abeid can be found here: