Today, August 20th 2015, the appeals court in Aleg upheld a two year prison sentence for the president of IRA, Biram Dah Abeid, for the Vice President, Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, and for the president of Kawtal, Djiby Sow. See Al-Jazeera report on this ruling. See IRA – Mauritanie press release on the court of appeals ruling. Amnesty International criticized this ruling as “revolting” and “unjust.” The Federation Internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme (FIDH) strongly condemned the ruling and pointed out that it demonstrates a complete lack of will to enforce the anti-slavery law. See also the Guardian report on the ruling.
Reuters reported on this denied appeal, comparing it to Mauritania’s release of a Malian jihadist from jail.
Sidi Mohamed Ould Mohamed Ould Bouamama, better known as Sanda Ould Bouamama, is a former spokesman for Ansar Dine, an al Qaeda-linked group that joined with other Islamist fighters to seize Mali’s desert north in 2012.
Though driven from northern towns and cities by a French-led military operation a year later, remnants of the Islamist groups remain active.
Ansar Dine last month claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and the Malian army in the capital Bamako and border areas near Ivory Coast and Mauritania.
“Freeing an individual of this calibre will obviously allow him to again take up his jihadist activities and continue to commit crimes,” Florent Geel, Africa Desk Director of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), told Reuters.
Biram dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Ramdhane are currently in prison in Aleg. They refused to appear at the appeals hearing in order to protest the political control of the courts in Mauritania. Recall that this spring the immediate former head of the Mauritanian Bar Association protested the political control of the judiciary publicly and in front of President Aziz.
Djiby Sow is currently in Germany for medical treatment. If he recovers from his kidney disease, he must return to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
The trial of the anti-slavery activists has been politicized from the point of these individuals’ arrest. In violation of the Mauritanian law, that arrest was ordered by the governor of Rosso. The governor has no authority to order arrests. Arrests, according to Mauritanian statute, are supposed to originate with the Procurer (the Prosecutor). The charges against these men were changed numerous times, the alleged “eye witness” statements documenting criminal acts were falsified, and finally, a two year prison term was handed down despite absence of any evidence of a violation that merits two years in prison.
No slave owner in Mauritania, not even self-confessed slave owners, have served two years in prison.
From Facebook IRA – United States
la nouvelle loi contre l’esclavage n’a pas pris compte des commentaires des ONGs,
l’autre nouvelle loi (propose) sure les organisations/doit d’association c’est très concernant,
et puis aujourd’hui on voit l’administration encore veut punir les gens qui travail contre l’esclavage
pendant que personne qui est maitre des esclaves n’est pas puni .
Voila, la tristesse qui est la Mauritanie.”