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A group of UN human rights experts have expressed grave concerns about the continued detention of Mauritanian blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’kheitir on charges that violate his human rights. Mr. M’kheitir was arrested in January 2014 and sentenced to death for apostasy in after publishing an article online questioning the use of religious justification to legitimise caste discrimination.
News article on: UN experts urge immediate release of detained Mauritanian blogger writing about caste-based discrimination in Mauritania
For centuries a hereditary system of servitude has forced members of the Haratine ethnic minority to be subjected to slavery in Mauritania, working without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants, despite an official ban. In March, Mauritania sentenced two men to 20 years in prison and one woman to 10 years in prison for enslaving their fellow citizens. These three rulings are extraordinary in the West African country, which has exceptionally few prosecutions for slavery. IDSN welcomes the verdicts as a sign of progress in the country.
The 9th session of the Forum on Minority Issues (the Forum) was held last week, on 24 and 25 November 2016, focusing on the situation of minorities in humanitarian crises. The Forum provides a unique opportunity for state representatives, experts, civil society and minority communities, and specialised bodies to engage in a constructive dialogue and seek ways to strengthen the protection and promotion of minority rights in prevention, crisis situations and the aftermath.
The Global Slavery Index 2014, released by the Walk Free Foundation, singles out India as the country in the world with the most slaves and sees caste at the root of slavery in India. Caste-affected Mauritania tops the Index on percentage of the population in slavery.
The reports and statements of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on Slavery and Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation at the HRC27 session offered general, thematic as well as state specific observations and recommendations on caste-based discrimination.
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intorlerance, M. Mutuma Ruteere, has made numerous references to caste in his report from his mission to Mauritania and in his Interactive Dialogue at the HRC26.