Mauritania: One Year On, Blogger Still Detained

Authorities in Mauritania need to promptly and effectively launch a blogger who remains in custody regardless of an appeals court’s decision twelve months ago, on November 9, 2017, to commute his loss of life sentence, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, the Forum des establishments nationales des droits de l’Homme en Mauritanie, and 27 other human rights corporations said these days.

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaïtir, 35, remains in custody in an undisclosed place, with limited get admission to his own family and no get right of entry to his lawyers after authorities didn’t implement an appeal courtroom ruling for his release.

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“Continuing to detain Mohamed Mkhaïtir demonstrates critical contempt for the rule of thumb of law by using the Mauritanian government,” said Kine Fatim Diop, Amnesty International’s West Africa Campaigner. “He is a prisoner of the sense of right and wrong whose life is in the palms of the government totally due to the fact he peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression.”

“Blogging isn’t always a crime, and, in accordance with the Mauritanian court’s decision, Mohamed Mkhaïtir need to be released right now and unconditionally and the government should discover all available manner to guarantee his protection.”

Mkhaïtir became to start with arrested on January 2, 2014, for a weblog post posted in December 2013 that said slavery and discrimination, along with towards the blacksmith caste, which he belongs to.

Following the book of the weblog, mass protests calling for Mkhaïtir’s execution for “blasphemy” – one in all which the Mauritanian president addressed sympathetically – took place across the country.

Charged with apostasy

Mkhaitir repented on several occasions for the duration of his interrogation via police and in a written statement dated January 11, 2014. His trial started on December 23, 2015, and he became charged with apostasy and insulting the Prophet Muhammad, earlier than being sentenced to demise the following day.

On November 9, 2017, an enchantment court decreased his loss of life sentence to 2 years in prison, which he had already served, and an exceptional. In March 2018, the Mauritanian Minister of Justice Mokhtar Malay Dia said in an interview that “the blogger Mkhaïtir is still held someplace in Mauritania.”

In May, Mauritanian authorities knowledgeable the UN Committee at the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that Mkhaïtir became in “administrative detention for his very own protection.”

For almost a yr, his attorneys have again and again asked to visit him, but they’ve still no longer acquired a solution from the minister of justice. Mkhaïtir is presently believed to be sick and in want of urgent hospital treatment.

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“Rather than respecting the court order, authorities have refused to well know the whereabouts of Mkhaïtir and deprived him of contact with the outside international,” stated Fatimata Mbaye, human rights defender and Mkhaïtir’s domestic attorney.

“This amounts to incommunicado detention, a critical human rights violation. Authorities ought to end this arbitrary detention, launch Mkhaïtir, and guarantee his protection.”

The United Nations has on numerous activities criticized his detention and death sentence. In June 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mkhaïtir’s trial became unfair, his detention arbitrary and that Mauritania was in violation of the worldwide regulation.

In May 2018, six UN human rights professionals expressed grave worries about Mkhaïtir’s persisted detention.

“This case is emblematic of the Mauritanian government’s repression of freedom of expression and records, especially human proper defenders campaigning against discrimination and newshounds masking the unlawful use of slave labor,” stated Kate Barth, Freedom Now prison director.

“Mauritania need to immediately and unconditionally launch Mohamed Mkhaïtir and forestall jailing folks that peacefully explicit their opinions.”

The Mauritanian National Assembly handed a regulation on April 2018 that replaces article 306 of the Criminal Code and makes the demise penalty obligatory for all and sundry convicted of “blasphemous speech” and acts deemed “sacrilegious.”

The new law eliminates the opportunity below article 306 of substituting jail terms for the loss of life penalty for certain apostasy-associated crimes if the offender directly repents. The regulation additionally extends the scope of application of the death penalty to “renegade acts.” The timing of the enactment of the law only some months after the court of appeal ordered Mkhaïtir’s launch seems to be associated with his case.

Mauritania has ratified numerous international human rights treaties which include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights that shield the right to lifestyles.

The demise penalty is the least cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee will behavior a evaluate of Mauritania’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2019.

 

Jason B. Barker