An independent UN human rights expert on Aug. 21 commended Mauritania for adopting a new law that establishes harsher sentences for slavery crimes, urging full implementation. The law adopted last week by the Mauritanian National Assembly doubles prison terms for slavery convictions, declared slavery a crime against humanity, and created tribunals to handle slavery prosecution cases. UN Special Rapporteur Urmila Bhoola said that the law is an important step on a road map toward eradicating slavery but insisted that "slavery and slavery-like practices can be eradicated only if the existing laws, policies and programs are implemented fully and effectively. This statement comes just one day after a court in Mauritania upheld a two-year prison sentence for Biram Dah Abeid, an anti-slavery activist convicted of inciting trouble and belonging to an unrecognized organization.
Approximately 36 million people in the world live in a form of modern slavery, the Global Slavery Index (GSI) reported in November. For the purposes of the study, GSI defined modern slavery as involving "one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their [sic] individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal." The report provided an analysis of how governments are working to eliminate acts of modern slavery. GSI found that countries with instability and high levels of prejudice have the highest levels of modern slavery and are the most vulnerable.
From Jurist, Aug. 21. used with permission.