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Protect Aminetou Mint El-Moctar

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 Aminetou Mint El-Moctar leads a rally

Aminetou Mint El-Moctar leads a human rights rally. PHOTO BY ACFC.

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.

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.