In a surprise move, Mauritania’s Constitutional Council on March 4 rejected 10 articles of an anti-terrorism law passed by country’s parliament in January. The 10 articles that were thrown out as unconstitutional would have allowed tapping of telephone calls and e-mail, as well as warrantless home searches and night raids on houses at any time. Other articles would have allowed the incarceration of minors, extended the period of “preventive detention” by the police to four years and barred any challenge to terrorism charges made by police.
Beddahi Ould Sbahi, an MP representing the opposition Popular Progressive Alliance, spearheaded the initiative to have the articles examined by the Constitutional Council. The council’s decision is “legally based and responds to broad popular demand,” Ould said in response to the decision. Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf said the government will respect the ruling. (Magharebia, March 9)