The reports – which have come as shocking to many, reveal that an estimated 10% to 20% of Mauritania's 3.4 million people are enslaved — in "real slavery." Releasing the report, the United Nations' special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Tomoya Obokata, noted that this is not any form of modern slavery – but slavery as we know it.
You will recall that it is on record that Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery. But it appears that although the announcement that slavery was abolished in 1981, this was not the case, as it continued in full force in the country.
There have been numerous reports that slavery was never abolished in the country and that it remains completely technically legal to date. Slavery was criminalized for the time in Mauritania in 2007, and the second case was in 2015. The new reports reveal that the practice is now worse than ever in the country, and abolition is rarely enforced.
It is estimated that 160,000 enslaved people reached Mauritius and Réunion between 1670 and 1810, of which 87% came from various regions in Africa and 13% from India. In 1787, Port Louis was made into a free port, open to ships of all nations. It appears that this has remained unchanged in the country to date.
Tomoya Obokata has called on the authorities in Mauritania to take urgent measures to implement an anti-slavery law that was passed in 2015.
Following a visit to the West African country, Tomoya Obokata - the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, warned that there is a lot of work to be done to address the issue of slavery in the country.
He said people were still being born into slavery, and people affected by the practice needed help to seek justice and achieve equality.
Mr. Obokata said people were now more willing to discuss the issue openly. But he said caste-based slavery and chattel slavery – where one person owns another – were still happening.
He warned that a change in the mindset of the country's leaders was needed - because even though laws had been passed, they were not being implemented. The Japanese scholar said enslaved people in Mauritania - particularly women and children - were subject to violence and sexual abuse.
Mauritius is known as a honeymooner's paradise, a luxury destination, and a haven for water sports. But there is more to this beautiful island than holidays; its history is soaked in stories of immigration, subjugation, slavery, exploitation, and indenture, and it is a story of human perseverance and triumph. Critics say that it is sad to note that nothing has changed to date, and the people are still faced with harsh realities such as slavery and forced labour.
Many critics believe that this could be one of the reasons why the Arabic-speaking African nation decided to pull out of ECOWAS in December 2000, despite being one of its founding members in 1975.
They urged the African Union to act fast rather than wait for foreign intervention – which they claim will never come.
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