Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Tuesday, 3 November 2015 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Mauritania
Represented by 13-member delegation headed by Mr. Brahim Ould Daddah, Minister of Justice

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit
the Mauritania page on the UPR webpage

Troika *

Bangladesh, Congo and France

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on Mauritania page on UPR Extranet **)

  • Following the recommendations posed during its first UPR, the Government of Mauritania has strengthened and improved institutional and legislative frameworks devoted to the promotion and protection of human rights;
  • The constitution was revised in 2012 to recognise cultural and linguistic diversity and to address slavery-like practices and torture as crimes against humanity; Constitutional amendments have also institutionalised the national human rights commission and gave higher status to  international law over national legislation;
  • Moreover, the Government has lifted reservations to the CEDAW and acceded to the Convention on forced disappearances, the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the OPCAT;
  • The Government has also facilitated access to justice through the creation of specialised courts to address crimes of slavery whereby victims’ access to a lawyer was enhanced; 
  • An agency was also established to augment the Government’s efforts to combat poverty and its consequences and the Government has been working with national and international partners to combat poverty aiming to achieve the post-2015 goals;
  • Mauritania has also created an independent national preventative mechanism against torture and has adopted several pieces of legislation to combat torture;
  • Moreover, the Government has bolstered the capacity of the national human rights commission and the office of the ombudsperson, has published all acceded to treaties, has cooperated with all international human rights mechanisms and has also received several UN Special Procedures;
  • A national strategy was established to better achieve equality for women and to combat gender based violence.  A plan was also set in place to improve the livelihood of rural women.  Major success has also been achieved in terms of participation of women in public life;
  • The Government established a work plan leading to the adoption of a new law which criminalised slavery-like practices and gave NGOs the right to bring cases to court; the courts have dealt with 31 cases of such practices; information campaigns have also been instituted to lift the taboo on slavery-like practices;
  • Health care services have also been improved and training for healthcare professionals implemented resulting in better health services for women and children and a rural development plan was implemented to raise the standards of living; another national strategy was realised aiming for better protection of children and to eradicate child labour an all its forms;
  • The Government has undertaken a series of measures to enable Mauritanian refugees in Senegal to return to Mauritania to allow them to reintegrate into social life;
  • The Government has also endeavoured to combat discrimination, racism and all forms of intolerance; there was an OHCHR office in country which has provided assistance in this regard and to strengthen the Government’s capacity to respond to recommendations posed by Treaty Bodies.  

Participants

In total 84 States participated in the dialogue:  32 HRC members and 52 observers  (Statements available on Mauritania page on UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Efforts to eradicate slavery, notably the creation of the anti-slavery court in 2015, the criminalization of slavery and the roadmap and action plan to eradicate contemporary forms of slavery;
  • The ratification of all major human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Protection of All Persons form Enforced Disappearances, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture;
  • The fact that the newly set up National Human Rights Commission of Mauritania has been classified as A status;
  • The constitutional review of 2012;
  • The de-facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2007;
  • The establishment of a national strategy for gender mainstreaming.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The fact that slavery was still widespread in Mauritania;
  • Reports of regular use of torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention;
  • The lack of legislation protecting LGBT persons from discrimination;
  • The fact that homosexuality and apostasy are considered as a crime punishable by the death penalty;
  • Slavery-like practices including child labour and exploitation of girls in domestic work;
  • Prevailing harmful practices such as female genital mutilation.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Mauritania.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To intensify efforts to totally eliminate slavery and slavery-like practices, particularly to implement the 2014 roadmap to eradicate slavery and to prosecute slaveholders;
  • To establish a de jure moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards total abolition;
  • To implement laws combating female genital mutilation;
  • To enhance the capacities of the National Human Rights Commission;
  • To continue to implement the National strategy for Gender Mainstreaming and to promote the empowerment of women and their access to public life;
  • To finalize a violence against women law and to strengthen the National Commission to combat gender-based violence;
  • To implement laws to abolish child and early forced marriage;
  • To decriminalize apostasy;
  • To ensure that their rights of women and children in places of detention are respected;
  • To investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment in prisons;
  • To include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination laws;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report -recommendations section- of the UPR Working Group on Mauritania is scheduled to take place on Friday, 6 November 2015

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711,
rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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