Below is an abstract from the Concluding Observations prepared by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) following the review of Mauritania at its 51st session in May 2009.

Concluding Observations (CRC/C/MRT/CO/2)

  • 36. While noting as positive the Act No. 2007-042 of 3 September 2007 criminalising slavery, the Committee is concerned over the lack of effective implementation of the law. The Committee is seriously concerned over reports indicating the continued existence of caste based slavery, which has a particular impact on girls in domestic service and boys forced to beg by marabouts. The Committee is especially concerned over the absence of services to free and reintegrate children victims of slavery and over the lack of measures to educate the public about traditional slavery practices in general.
  • 37. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to eradicate slavery and in particular to ensure that perpetrators of such practices are held accountable in accordance with the law. The Committee calls upon the State party to implement a national strategy against slavery, including an analysis of root-causes and effective measures to free victims of slavery and provide them with psycho-social recovery and reintegration measures. The Committee recommends that the State party conduct specific awareness raising campaigns on the legislation which criminalises slavery.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also took note of the rampant caste based slavery when reviewing the State Party in 2004.&nb

Concluding Observations (CERD/C/65/CO/5)

  • 9. The Committee notes that the State party’s report contains information on the linguistic composition of the population, but that this information does not convey the full complexity of Mauritanian society, particularly with regard to the composition of the Arabic-speaking group. It regrets that the economic and social indicators provided for the Committee were not disaggregated by descent or ethnic origin.

The State party should carry out a more precise population census that is not limited to linguistic factors, and produce more detailed indicators disaggregated by descent or ethnic origin. The Committee recommends that the State party carry out targeted surveys, on the basis of voluntary self-identification, which will make it possible to determine the situation of the groups falling within the definition of article 1 of the Convention, and communicate the findings to the Committee in its next report.

  • 10. The Committee notes that only the Labour Code contains a definition of racial discrimination that is close to the definition given in article 1 of the Convention.

The State party should incorporate in its domestic law a definition of racial discrimination that is applicable in every sphere of social life and that reproduces all the elements in article 1 of the Convention, including discrimination based on descent.

  • 15. The Committee notes with concern that vestiges of the caste system persist in Mauritania. While welcoming the fact that slavery was abolished by a law dated 9 November 1981, it remains concerned about information on the persistence of slavery-like practices, which constitute serious instances of discrimination based on descent. It is concerned that no implementing orders have been issued subsequent to the 1981 law and that there is no provision in criminal law that expressly punishes slavery.

The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its general recommendation XXIX concerning racial discrimination based on descent, and suggests that a detailed study of this issue should be included in the State party’s next report. It strongly recommends that the State party launch, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and religious leaders, a wide-ranging information and public-awareness campaign to put an end to slavery-like practices. The State party should ensure that the perpetrators of such practices, which are already prohibited by law, are systematically prosecuted in the courts, including in cases where they have seized the property of deceased former slaves.

  • 16. The Committee notes that the information on the adoption of practical measures designed specifically to combat slavery-like practices remains inadequate.

Taking note of the delegation’s statement that the anti-poverty programme is helping to eradicate the legacy of slavery, the Committee considers that other actions specifically targeting the populations concerned should be taken. The State party should conduct a study, in cooperation with civil society, to determine the economic and social situation of the descendants of slaves, including how many of them have title to land.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommended for the state party to fully dismantle the caste-based system of enslaving women in domestic work in the section on employment in its Concluding Observations, issued July 18 2014.

Concluding Observations (CEDAW/C/MRT/CO/2-3)

  • 37. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(f) Fully dismantle the caste-based system of enslaving women in domestic work and thereby raise the dignity of women domestic workers, ensure that women domestic workers have access to effective complaint procedures and redress and consider ratifying ILO Convention No. 189 (1990) on decent work for domestic workers

Country visit by Special Rapporteur on racism