Mauritania NGO slams police 'abuses' against protesters

Police have used excessive force to break up demonstrations that have recently shaken Mauritania, says rights group

Mauritania NGO slams police 'abuses' against protesters

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Mauritanian rights group on Tuesday called for an investigation into recent alleged police abuses against street demonstrators.

In a statement, Mauritanian Human Rights Watch (MHRW), a local NGO, said police had “heavily suppressed” demonstrations held across the country in recent days to demand the execution of a blogger convicted of “apostasy”.

On Nov. 9, a court sentenced Mauritanian blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir to two years in prison for criticizing Islamic tenets.

The relatively light sentence sparked outrage among several political parties and groups, which have organized large demonstrations to demand the blogger’s execution.

According to MHRW, police have used excessive force to break up demonstrations, which have been seen in the cities of Laayoune, Nouadhibou and the capital Nouakchott.

“Police have beaten demonstrators, dragged them on the ground, and stripped two of them naked," the NGO asserted, describing such practices as "crimes against humanity and an attack on human dignity”.

The group went on to demand that the “perpetrators” -- police personnel who committed the alleged abuses -- face justice.

Debate has raged in Mauritania after videos were shared last week on social media forums that appeared to show Mauritanian police stripping two protesters naked while dispersing a rally in Nouakchott.

Several Mauritanian opposition parties have demanded an investigation into the alleged incident, describing it as “unprecedented”.

Addressing Mauritania’s parliament on Monday, however, Economy and Finance Minister Mokhtar Ould Ajay said at least one of the videos shared online was "clearly fabricated".

Ould Mkhaitir was arrested in early 2014 and later convicted of heresy. In December of the same year, he was slapped with a death sentence.

Last year, Nouadhibou’s court of appeals upheld the death sentence but later changed the charge against Ould Mkhaitir to "apostasy".

In January of this year, Mauritania’s Supreme Court threw out the sentence and ordered a retrial by different judges, who later sentenced him to only two years behind bars.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Kasım 2017, 10:42