On 31 December 2018, the Tribunal of Arafat in Nouakchott sentenced to Biram Dah Abeid (pictured), the newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Sawab/Rag coalition and President of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and Abdellahi el Housein Mesoud, an IRA member to six months in prison. Two of those months would be suspended sentences. Having already spent more than four months in prison, Biram and Abdellahi were released the same day from Nouakchott Civil Prison.
Biram was arbitrarily arrested on 7 August 2018 in Nouakchott, west Mauritania at his home on the same day that his name was put forward as a candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections. No warrant was produced at the time of his arrest, and he was told it was based on “an order that came from above”. The elections took place on 1 September 2018 and he was elected as the MP for Sawab/Rag coalition.
Abdellahi was arrested in Nouakchott, west Mauritania on 9 August 2018.
The two IRA members were arrested following a complaint by a journalist who accused Biram Dah Abeid of threatening him after doing a television documentary about him. On 13 August 2018, Biram was charged with ‘voluntary assault on life and integrity of the person’, ‘incitement to voluntary assault on life’ and ‘threats of violence’. Abdellahi was charged with ‘complicity’. The journalist later withdrew his complaint, but the prosecutor still moved ahead with the case against the two anti-slavery activists.
After his release, Biram Dah Abeid shared the following message with an Amnesty International delegate, “I would to thank all Amnesty International members for their unconditional support every time that anti-slavery activists are arbitrarily arrested.”