• Lynn Tramonte

On UN International Day for Abolition of Slavery, Human Rights Abuses in Mauritania Continue

US Must End Deportations That Threaten Lives

On November 28, 1990, twenty-eight Black Mauritanians were murdered as part of an Independence-day celebration. No one has been punished for the crimes. On Sunday, December 2, 2018, the United Nations and anti-slavery groups will mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, reminding the world that slavery remains a scourge affecting millions today.


For Black Mauritanians living at “home” but in slavery; “free” but in-country; or abroad in exile, the lack of progress made in Mauritania since 1990 is not only devastating, but dangerous. Slavery, extortion, human trafficking, and other abuses are visited upon Black Mauritanians every day. Reporters and human rights advocates continue to be jailed and tortured for exposing these facts.


In the United States, Black Mauritanian refugees who have lived here for decades are now being deported at an alarming rate, to a country that doesn’t even consider them to be citizens. Once there, they become undocumented in their own country and refugees once more, searching for safety.


In light of these important international dates, we urge the news media to raise awareness about the slavery, human trafficking, and other abuses of fundamental rights that exist in Mauritania today, as well as the Trump Administration’s conflicting and hypocritical policy toward this nation.


Following are resources on these topics. To speak to experts on Mauritanian politics, human rights, and U.S. deportation policy, contact Lynn Tramonte of the Ohio Immigrant Alliance (ltramonte@ohioimmigrant.org / 202-255-0551).


Ohio Immigrant Alliance and African Immigrant Relief are raising money to ensure that all Black Mauritanians at risk of deportation have access to legal defense. Donate here #ForBlackMauritanians.


Resources on Slavery, Human Rights Conditions in Mauritania, and U.S. Deportation Policy

United Nations: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.
An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.

Amnesty International: Mauritania: Independence Day must rhyme with freedom for arbitrarily detained activists

By visiting him at the prison three years ago, I saw hope in the eyes of blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir, the first to be sentenced to death for apostasy since the independence of Mauritania. Today, Mauritania celebrates its independence, the last under the mandate of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. The latter has a unique chance to mark the history of his country by releasing the blogger, arbitrarily detained activists, and give justice and redress to the families of soldiers killed 30 years ago.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: ICE is sending Mauritanians back to modern-day slavery

THE WEST AFRICAN nation of Mauritania is known for its poets, for its reserves of gold — and for its failure to take meaningful action to curtail the pervasive practice of modern slaveholding. Tens of thousands of people there, especially women and children, are believed to be in bondage, which explains why undocumented Mauritanians living in the United States have seldom been deported in the past — because doing so would mean enslavement and even torture for many of them.
That seems not to concern the Trump administration’s deportation agents, who, in a stark departure from past practice, have sent back dozens of Mauritanians to a likely future in bondage. In many cases, the deportees have lived in the United States for many years, during which they were merely required to check in periodically with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: No person deserves enslavement

We challenge and encourage the community to pause and learn more about Mauritania, the deportation and protection policies in place for asylees, immigrants, and refugees, and finally to reflect. Sow fled enslavement in 1991. He does not deserve to be enslaved in 2018. No person deserves enslavement. Citizen or not.

Ohio Immigrant Alliance: Current Events in Mauritania Show Country Unsafe for U.S. Deportees

A timeline of political events in Mauritania, 2007-2018

Biram Dah Abeid: Declaration Regarding U.S. Deportations of Black Mauritanians

The deportation and expulsion of Black Mauritanians by the Department of Homeland Security deprives this calls of people of their fundamental rights, subjecting them to grave mistreatment, punishment, torture and even death.

Ohio Immigrant Alliance: USTR Terminates Mauritanian Trade Preferences Due to “Scourge of Hereditary Slavery”

The USTR is the third major Trump administration office--in addition to the First Lady Melania Trump--to criticize the rampant human rights abuses occurring in Mauritania today. Meanwhile, the same administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to deport individuals who are most vulnerable to these practices, without care for the consequences.

America’s Voice: Deportations to Mauritania: What You Need To Know

The Trump Administration Is Deporting Refugees Back to Slavery

Round-up of recent news clips