Portraits of former slaves, taken in Mauritania.

Although slavery was officially abolished in 1981 by the Mauritanian state, established as an offence in 2007 and made a crime against humanity in 2012, traditional slavery and racial discrimination are still commonplace in Mauritania.

UN human rights experts and international and local NGOs continue to express serious concerns about deeply entrenched discriminatory practices, particularly against members of the Haratins and Afro-Mauritanian communities. This includes severe underrepresentation in leadership positions, obstacles to civil registration which in turn limit the ability to go to school, vote and access to other essential services.

The current government -majority Arab-Berber- denies any presence of slavery or discrimination on its territory. Local NGOs denounce manipulation by the political authorities and confirm the presence of 10 to 20% of slaves within the population. There are no official data on this practice, but according to estimates by the Global slavery index 2016, as many as 43,000 people or about 1 % of the total Mauritanian population was affected by this situation.

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