A Mauritanian court on Wednesday sentenced in two separate cases two people, a woman and a man, respectively to 10 years and 20 years in prison for slavery. Human rights organisations say this is a first in sentences on slavery cases.
The first of the two cases involved three girls, the oldest of whom is now about 29 years old, and a 60-year-old woman who had enslaved them since childhood.
They contacted a local anti-slavery organization in 2011, which helped them file a complaint but the case dragged on for seven years.
The Nouadhibou criminal court sentenced Rivaa Mint Mahmad to 10 years in prison and the equivalent of € 5,600 fine for slave practices. She was immediately taken to prison.
In the second case, two men, a father and his son were prosecuted for enslaving an entire family. The father died a few months ago, and the son, Hamoudi Ould Saleck was tried in absentia and was sentenced to 20 years in prison
“What has just happened is extraordinary,” said Elid Mohameden M’Barek, the lawyer for the civil parties, speaking of a first in the judicial history of Mauritania.
A new anti-slavery law in 2015 doubled the prison term for perpetrators to 20 years, but in its second prosecution a year later Mauritania gave two slave owners only five-year sentences well below what is stipulated by the law.