Mauritania: 5 defenders prevented from attending the 64th CAT session

27/07/2018
Urgent Appeal
en fr

​MRT 001 / 0718 / OBS 100
Obstruction of freedom of movement and
freedom of association
Mauritania
25 July 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Mauritania.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the obstruction of the freedom of movement and freedom of association of Mrs Maimouna Alpha Sy, General Secretary of the Collectif des veuves (Widows’ Collective), Mrs Aissata Anne, Deputy Chairwoman of the Collectif des veuves, Mrs Aissata Diallo, spokesperson for the Collectif des veuves, Mr. Sy Yaya Ousmane, external relations officer of the Collectif des orphelins (Orphans’ collective), and Mr. Baba Traoré, Deputy Chairman of the Collectif des rescapés (Collective of Survivors), as they were due to attend the 64th session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva (Switzerland).
 
According to the information received, on 22 July 2018, the five human rights defenders were arrested by the police at Oumtounsy International Airport, from where they were due to travel to Geneva in order to attend the 64the session of the United nations Committee Against Torture (CAT), where Mauritania’s second periodic report is currently under review. Iimmediately after the defenders had completed the check-in procedures, the police confiscated their passports, on the grounds that they had to verify the visas, and asked the defenders to produce a letter from the Swiss consular authorities in Senegal certifying that the visas had been issued by these same authorities.

As a result of this delay, the defenders were not able to board their flight and, consequently, could not participate in the periodic review of Mauritania, which was held from 23 to 25 July 2018. Yet, the five human rights defenders were in possession of wholly valid Schengen visas as well as of a letter of invitation from the OMCT explaining the purpose of their trip.

The Observatory strongly condemns this obstruction of the freedom of movement and association of Mrs Maimouna Alpha Sy, Mrs Aissata Anne, Mrs Aissata Diallo, Mr Sy Yaya Ousmane and Mr Baba Traoré, whose only purpose is to exact a penalty for their actions in defence of human rights, as well as for their participation in the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
 
The Observatory calls on the Mauritanian authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment against Mrs Maimouna Alpha Sy, Mrs Aissata Anne, Mrs Aissata Diallo, Mr Sy Yaya Ousmane and Mr Baba Traoré and all human rights defenders in Mauritania and to guarantee their right to participate in international mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights.
 

Actions requested:

 
Please write to the Mauritanian authorities and ask them to:
 
i. Guarantee the right to freedom of movement and association of Mrs Maimouna Alpha Sy, Mrs Aissata Anne, Mrs Aissata Diallo, Mr Sy Yaya Ousmane and Mr Baba Traoré and of all human rights defenders in Mauritania, including their right to participate in international mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights under all circumstances;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Mrs Maimouna Alpha Sy, Mrs Aissata Anne, Mrs Aissata Diallo, Mr Sy Yaya Ousmane and Mr Baba Traoré, as well as all human rights defenders in Mauritania, so that they can conduct their daily activities and actions in defence of human rights freely and without any hindrance;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on human rights defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1998 and, specifically, articles 1 and 12.2;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Mauritania.
 
Addresses:
 
• H.E. Mr Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Fax: 00 222 525 85 52
• Mr Ahmedou Ould Abdalla, Minister of the Interior and of Decentralisation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Fax: + 222 529 09 89 ; Email: mmelhadi@interieur.gov.mr; leminesidi@yahoo.fr
• Mr Dia Malal, Minister of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Fax: 00 222 525 70 02
• Ms Irabiha Mint Adbel Weddoud, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Email: presidente@cndhmauritanie.mr
• H.E. Ambassador Mrs Salka Mint Bilal Yamar, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 18 41 Email: mission.mauritania@ties.itu.int
• S.E. Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Brahim Khlil, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 672 20 51, Email: info@amb-mauritania.be
 
Please also write to the diplomatic missions of Mauritania in your respective countries.

***
Geneva - Paris, 25 July 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org 
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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