Mauritania Human Rights


General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who became President in August 2008 after a coup against the democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, resigned in April from the army to stand in the July presidential elections. His victory was confirmed by the Constitutional Court, although the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission threw doubts on the reliability of the results and resigned.

Mauritania, suspended from the AU after the 2008 coup, was readmitted in June before the presidential elections.


Excessive Use Of Force

In the first six months of 2009, the security forces regularly used excessive force to prevent demonstrators from protesting against the electoral timetable.

  • In April, two demonstrations were violently repressed. The protests were attended by political parties and civil society organizations, including the Coordination of Democratic Forces – a coalition formed by the National Front for the Defence of Democracy and comprising trade union federations, human rights activists and civil society.
  • On 2 April, police beat human rights defender Boubacar Messaoud, president of SOS Esclaves, an NGO that campaigns against slavery, and several members of parliament, including Kobade Ould Cheick and Mohamed Moustapha Ould Bedredine, and fired tear gas at them as they staged a peaceful protest against the August 2008 coup.
  • On 19 April, many women, including former ministers, members of parliament and human rights defenders, were kicked or beaten with batons and belts by security forces. The women were staging a sit-in in front of the UN headquarters in Nouakchott. Nebghouha Mint Mohamed Vall, former Education Minister, and her daughter were beaten by the police. Another woman lost consciousness and had to be hospitalized after she too was beaten by the police.



UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, announced in October that more than 14,000 Mauritanian refugees, comprising over 3,500 families, had returned from Senegal since the start of the year. Since the beginning of the return of refugees in January 2008, nearly 20,000 Mauritanians had come back to Mauritania from neighbouring countries. Out of 12,000 refugees still living in Mali, around 8,000 had expressed a wish to return to Mauritania. Between 1989 and 1991, thousands of Mauritanians fled to neighbouring countries in the aftermath of repression against the black Mauritanian population.


Prisoners of Conscience – Releases

Isselmou Ould Abdelkhader Isselmou, a former Minister of Health detained since September 2008 for criticizing the coup against President Sidi, was provisionally released in February. In June, four other detainees, including the former Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Administration, were released on bail.


Death Penalty

Courts continued to impose the death penalty, although no executions were reported. At the end of the year, at least one person was under sentence of death.

Mauritania Newsroom

March 4, 2022 • Press Release

Organizations Welcome TPS for Ukraine and Urge TPS Designation for Other Countries in Extreme Conflict

We at Amnesty International USA, Cameroon Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and UndocuBlack Network, welcome the Department of Homeland Security’s designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) This is a critical move to ensure that the estimated 75,000 nationals from Ukraine are free from the fear of being returned to the human rights catastrophe brought upon by Russia’s invasion.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 21, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Mauritania 2013

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF MAURITANIA Head of state General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz Head of government Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf The authorities severely restricted freedom of expression, assembly and association. Protesters …

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Mauritania 2010

Head of state General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz Head of government Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf Death penalty abolitionist in practice Population 3.3 million Life expectancy 56.6 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) …

August 20, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International USA calls on the Trump administration to halt possible deportation of Mauritanian asylum seekers in the US

Amnesty International USA calls upon the Trump administration to refrain from deporting Mauritanians who have sought refuge and safety in the United States without renewed and fair consideration of their …

November 10, 2016 • Press Release

Mauritania: Appeal court must quash unfair sentences and free 13 anti-slavery activists

Mauritania’s appeals court must quash jail terms of up to 15 years handed down to 13 anti-slavery activists and release them from prison immediately, Amnesty International said ahead of their …

May 17, 2016 • Press Release

Mauritania: Anti-slavery activists released

The release of two anti-slavery activists, Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid and Brahim Bilal, who spent 20 months in jail is an enormous relief and welcome news for everyone who has been campaigning for this outcome.

April 20, 2016 • Press Release

Mauritania must quash the death sentence against blogger

Mauritania must quash the death sentence handed down to a blogger for apostasy and release him unconditionally, Amnesty International said today, ahead of his appeal court hearing in the south-western city of Nouadhibou tomorrow.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.