Strong from its spiritual values and from the radiation of its civilization, it also proclaims, solemnly, its attachment to Islam and to the principles of democracy as they have been defined by the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man of 10 December 1948 and by the African Charter of the Rights of Man and of Peoples of 28 June 1981 as well as in the other international conventions to which Mauritania has subscribed.
Considering that the liberty, the equality, and the dignity of Man cannot be assured except in a society which consecrates the primacy of law, concerned by creating durable conditions for a harmonious social evolution, respectful of the precepts of Islam, sole source of law and open to the exigencies of the modern world, the Mauritanian people proclaim, in particular, the intangible guarantee of the following rights and principles:
- the right to equality;
- the fundamental freedoms and rights of the human person;
- the right of property;
- the political freedoms and the trade union [syndicales] freedoms;
- the economic and social rights;
- the rights attached to the family, basic unit of the Islamic society.
The State guarantees to all citizens the public and individual freedoms, notably:
- the freedom to circulate and to establish themselves in all parts of the territory of the Republic;
Liberty cannot be limited except by the law.
No one shall be reduced to slavery or to any form of servitude [asservissement] of the human being, or submitted to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments. These practices constitute crimes against humanity and are punished as such by the law.
All persons are presumed innocent until the establishment of their culpability by a regularly constituted jurisdiction.
No one can be prosecuted, arrested, detained or punished except in the cases determined by the law and according to the forms that it prescribes.
The honor and the private life of the citizen, the inviolability of the human person, of his domicile and of his correspondence are guaranteed by the State.
MAURITANIA CONSTITUTION 1991 (WITH AMENDMENTS THROUGH 2012) (PDF)
Slavery constitutes a crime against humanity. It is imprescriptible.
Discrimination in any form against an alleged slave is forbidden.
A national day is devoted to the fight against slavery practices.
The determination of the day and the means of its celebration will be defined by decree.
Within the meaning of this law:
Slavery: the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.
- All acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person with intent to reduce him to slavery, to sell or exchange him;
- All forms of serfdom or debt bondage;
- All forms of forced labour;
- All acts of trade or transport in slaves;
- Deprivation of property or inheritance rights, considering that the person is a slave;
- Deprivation of the right to go to court and to testify.
Placement: practice whereby:
- A woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group;
- The husband of a woman or his family who transfers her or attempts to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise;
- The transmission by inheritance of a woman, upon the death of her husband, to another person;
- The handing over of a child, by either or both of his natural parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his labour.
Serfdom: The condition or status of a tenant who is by law, custom or agreement bound to live and labour on land belonging to another person and to render some determinate service to such other person, whether for reward or not, and is not free to change his status.
Debt bondage: The status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined
Slave: the individual over whom slavery is exercised.
The perpetrators of the offences covered by this law are liable to a double penalty, imprisonment and a fine. They can, as well, be banned from exercising their civic rights, in conformity with the provisions of the penal code.
Any attempt to commit or complicity in the committal of offences under this law shall be liable to the same penalties as those provided for the offences committed.
Any person who reduces another person, or a person under their care or responsibility, to slavery or incites them to forfeit their liberty or dignity for the purpose of enslaving them is punishable by ten (10) to twenty (20) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who commits the offence of placement laid down in article 3 of this law is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who commits the offence of serfdom laid down in article 3 of this law is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who commits the offence of debt bondage laid down in article 3 of this law is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who violates the bodily integrity of a person, considering that he is a slave, is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who appropriates goods, earnings and revenue resulting from the labour of an alleged slave or extorts their assets is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who deprives a child who is an alleged slave of access to education is punishable by five (5) to ten (10) years’ imprisonment and a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to seven million (7,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who fraudulently deprives any alleged slave of inheritance is punishable by five (5) to seven (7) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who forces a woman to marry him or someone else or prevents her from marrying, a woman who is an alleged slave against her will is punishable by five (5) to eight (8) years imprisonment and a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas.
If the marriage is consummated, the spouse has the right to the dowry without prejudice to any damages and interest. The parenthood of the children is established with regard to the husband and she can demand the dissolution of the marriage.
The provisions of article 309 of the Penal Code apply to any person who rapes a woman who is an alleged slave.
Any person who sexually assaults a woman who is an alleged slave is punishable by five (5) to eight (8) years’ imprisonment and a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas
The author of a cultural or artistic production defending slavery is punishable by five (5) to six (6) years’ imprisonment and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to four million (4,000,000) ouguiyas. The production is confiscated and destroyed. The fine is raised to five million (5,000,000) ouguiyas if the production is created or disseminated by a legal entity (une personne morale). In addition to the penalty prescribed above, the legal entity may be forbidden from pursuing its activities partially or completely, temporarily or permanently.
Any judicial police officer or agent who fails to investigate allegations of slavery practices that are brought to his attention is punishable by two (2) to five (5) years’ imprisonment and a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to one million (1,000,000) ouguiyas.
Any person who uses an offensive language against an alleged slave in public is punishable by six (6) months’ to two (2) years’ imprisonment and a fine of ten thousand (20,000) to two hundred thousand (250,000) ouguiyas.
LAW NO. 2015-031 CRIMINALIZING SLAVERY AND PENALIZING SLAVERY (PDF)
Will be punished from ten days to six months of imprisonment and from 5,000 to 100,000 ouguiya of fine:
1. Whoever, in a spirit of lucre, has induced the parents or one of them to abandon their child, born or unborn;
2. Any person who has caused the adoption by the prospective parents, or one of them, of an act under which they undertake to abandon the unborn child, who has detained such an act, Shall have made use of it or attempted to make use of it;
3. Any person who, in a spirit of lucre, has brought or attempted to bring his or her assistance for the purpose of collecting or adopting a child.
He who, without fraud or violence, will be removed or diverted or attempted to remove or away a person under 18 shall be punished by imprisonment of two to five years and a fine from 5,000 to 20,000 MUs. In all cases where 'the abductor would have married the girl he kidnapped, he can be prosecuted the complaint of those who, by law, have the right to request annulment of marriage or sentenced after the annulment of the marriage was pronounced.
Article 5. The principle of freedom to work
Forced or compulsory labor by which a work or service is required of a person under the threat of any penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily is prohibited. Any employment relationship, even if it is not the result of a contract of employment, in which a person provides work or a service for which he has not offered himself voluntarily, is also prohibited. Any infringement of these provisions is punishable by penal sanctions provided for by Law 2003-025 of 17/07/2003 on the punishment of trafficking in persons.
Notwithstanding the definitions laid down in treaties and international conventions on human rights ratified by Mauritania, "Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer of persons by force or use of force or threats or other forms of coercion, of abduction, deception, abuse of power or exploitation of a position of vulnerability or of the giving of the acceptance of payment or advantage to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for exploitation. Exploitation shall include a minimum of unpaid work, labour or forced services and similar practices, the removal of organs for profit, exploitation of prostitution of others or other forms of exploitation sexual.
The consent of a victim of human trafficking operation is deemed null and void when one of the means set forth in the preceding section was used.
The recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in the Article 1.
The commission of the acts set out in Articles 1, 2 and 3 constitutes the crime of human trafficking.
In addition to the forfeiture of their civil and political rights, the perpetrators of human trafficking will be punished with hard labour for five to ten years and a fine of 500,000 to 1,000,000 UM. Will also be punished in the same sentence, those who have entered into an agreement whose purpose is to dispose of, either free or for remuneration, freedom of another person. Will be condemned to the same penalties and a fine of 600,000 to 1,200,000 ouguiyas the authors of the crimes belonging to an organized criminal group.
ACT NO 025/2003 ON THE SUPPRESSION OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (PDF)
For a marriage to be contracted, the following elements must be present: two spouses, the guardian [weli], the dowry and the consent.
Any person of sound mind who is at least 18 years old shall be able to marry. A disabled person may be married by her guardian [weli] if the guardian approves of the marriage.
Guardianship [wilaya] is exercised in the interests of the woman. A woman who has reached the age of majority cannot be married without her consent and the presence of her guardian [weli]. Consent can be implied by silence.
A marriage is contracted by the consent of the parties, expressed in sacred words or using any expression acceptable by usage. If a person is unable to express himself/herself, valid consent can be expressed either in writing or by any sign expressing willingness in some way.