Photo: AFCF

Mauritania: Protect Human Rights Defender Aminetou Mint El-Moctar

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend
Date: 
12 Aug 2014

view as pdf

Equality Now and the international human rights community are extremely concerned about death threats against prominent human rights defender, Ms. Aminetou Mint El-Moctar. On 5 June 2014, Mr. Yadhih Ould Dahi, self-proclaimed leader of the extremist group “Friends of the Prophet,” issued a fatwa in Mauritania, which stated that “whoever kills her or tears out her eyes will be rewarded by Allah.” Further putting her in danger, Ms. Mint El-Moctar’s personal information, including contact and workplace details and her car’s number plate, were subsequently publicized. She and her children were forced to relocate because of this and now have a full time bodyguard protecting them. To date neither the Mauritanian government nor the police have taken no action to protect her or condemn the fatwa, which, according to Ms. Mint El-Moctar, is potentially the first time a human rights defender has not been offered protection or support.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

A lifelong champion for gender equality and human rights, Ms. Mint El-Moctar was targeted for speaking out publicly to demand a fair trial for Cheikh Ould Mkheitir, a young man who was charged with apostasy and is awaiting trial in northern Mauritania, and for her work to address sexual violence in Mauritania. When she reported the fatwa and its murderous intent to the police on 6 June, rather than filing a complaint, the police advised her to discuss it with Mr. Yadhih Ould Dahi – the same man who had issued the call for her death.

Ms. Mint El-Moctar founded the Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille in 1999 to combat all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices against women and their children. In addition to her vocal stance against child marriage, rape, and domestic violence, Ms. Mint El-Moctar has led campaigns against the trafficking of young Mauritanian girls to Gulf States, which led to the recognition by authorities of these practices. She has previously been named by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre as amongst the most influential Muslim figures in the world, and was honored in 2010 by the US Department of State for her efforts to combat human trafficking. She was also awarded the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic in 2006 for her work in supporting women's participation in politics.

Ms. Mint El-Moctar is asking for your help. Please join us in calling on the Mauritanian government to protect her so that she and her organization can continue their vital work for women and girls in Mauritania.

Mauritania's Constitution guarantees the "fundamental freedoms and rights of the human person" including public and individual freedoms, including the freedom of opinion and of thought, and the freedom of expression. Mauritania is bound by regional and international human rights instruments it has ratified, including the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (UN Declaration) and is obligated to adhere to the fundamental principles articulated therein.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please stand with Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) coalition, and FEMNET in urgently calling on the authorities below to demand that:

  • Immediate measures are taken to guarantee Ms. Aminetou Mint El Moctar’s physical safety and psychological wellbeing, as well as to combat her harassers so that she can continue her human rights work.
  • Mauritanian authorities conduct a prompt, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into those threatening Ms. Mint El-Moctar, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • Mauritania lives up to its domestic, regional and international obligations to protect, enforce, and uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens, and particularly those cases involving human rights defenders.

H.E. Mr. Sidi Ould Zeine
Minister of Justice
B.P. 350
Nouakchot, Mauritania
Tel: +222 525 2682
Fax: +222 525 2860
Email: szeine@justice.gov.mr

Ms. Irabiha Abdel Wedoud
Présidente Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme
B.P. 5435
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Tel: + 222-45-25-26-36
Fax: + 222-45-25-26-23
Email: irabdel@yahoo.fr

H.E. Mr. Abderahim Ould Elhadrami
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the United Nations
116 East 38th Street
New York, N.Y. 10016
Tel: +1 212 252 0113/0141
Fax: +1 212 252 0175
Email: mauritania@un.int

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
2129 Leroy Place, NW
Washington DC 20008
Phone: +1 202 232 5700
Fax: +1 202 319 2623
Email: info@mauritaniaembassy-usa.org

Embassy of Mauritania in London
Carlyle House
235-237 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 1EJ
Tel: +44 (0) 2072336158
Email: info@mauritanianembassy.org.uk

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Ambassador/President,

I am deeply concerned about the death threats issued against prominent Mauritanian human rights defender, Ms. Aminetou Mint El-Moctar, and the lack of government and police action to protect her from the actions of Mr. Yadhih Ould Dahi, self-proclaimed leader of the extremist group “Friends of the Prophet.” Mr. Ould Dahi issued a fatwa against her on 5 June 2014, stating that “whoever kills her or tears out her eyes will be rewarded by Allah.” However, when she reported it the next day, rather than filing a complaint, the police advised her to discuss it with Mr. Yadhih Ould Dahi – the same man who had issued the call for her death! Since then, Ms. Mint El-Moctar’s personal information has been widely publicized, – further putting her in danger. As the Mauritanian officials have not taken action to protect her or condemn the fatwa, she and her children are currently living in hiding.
 
Ms. Mint El-Moctar is a lifelong advocate for gender equality and human rights, renowned for her instrumental work in combating all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices against women and their children. In direct violation of her constitutional rights to freedom of opinion and expression, she was targeted for speaking out publicly to demand a fair trial for Cheikh Ould Mkheitir -- a young man charged with apostasy who is awaiting trial in northern Mauritania – and her work to address sexual violence in Mauritania. 

I join Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition, FEMNET and others in the international human rights community in calling on Mauritanian authorities to take immediate steps to protect Ms. Aminetou Mint El Moctar and bring those threatening her to justice, so that she and her organization can continue their vital human rights work.

Mauritania must live up to its domestic, regional and international obligations to protect, enforce, and uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens, and particularly those cases involving human rights defenders.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,