UN Authority Figures

UN Human Rights Council Vice-President: Mauritania

Slavery still shackles Mauritania, 31 years after its abolition. Activists estimate many of Mauritania's 3.5 million population are willing chattels. Photo: A shanty town hut in Nouakchott, Mauritania. (Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Mission of the Human Rights Council:
"The General Assembly...2. Decides that the Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner; 3. Decides also that the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon..." (Resolution 60/251)

Mauritania's Term of office: 2013

Mauritania's Record on human rights:
"Continuing slavery, slavery-related practices, and trafficking in persons were central human rights problems...Other reported human rights problems were the use of torture by police to extract confessions, arbitrary arrests, lengthy pretrial detention, government influence over the judiciary, limits on freedom of the press and assembly, restrictions on religious freedom for non-Muslims, corruption, discrimination against women, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, political marginalization of southern-based ethnic groups, racial and ethnic discrimination, child labor...security personnel tortured detainees to extract confessions. Torture methods reportedly included electric shocks, burning, beating, pulling out of hair, and sexual violence...rape was considered a serious problem...In practice rape cases rarely went to trial. ...Families of the victim commonly reached an agreement with the rapist for monetary compensation...According to Sharia as applied in Mauritania, the testimony of two women was necessary to equal that of one man...Domestic violence was considered a serious problem... FGM was practiced by all ethnic groups and performed on young girls, often on the seventh day after birth and almost always before the age of six months... Under Sharia, as applied in the country, consensual same-sex sexual activity between men is punishable by death if witnessed by four individuals, and such activity between women is punishable by three months to two years in prison and a 5,000 to 60,000 ouguiya ($17 to $207) fine." (State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2011, Mauritania)