Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

‘We were not equal to the rest of the family, that was made obvious. They

would beat us for any reason, sometimes we didn’t even know the reason.’

The brothers managed to escape five years ago, aged just eight and 11,

with the help of an aunt and a local anti-slavery group. A few months

after their escape, the criminal court of Nouakchott found Ahmed Ould El

Hassine guilty of holding them captive and denying them education.


In the first – and only – successful prosecution under Mauritania’s

2007 anti-slavery legislation, El Hassine was sentenced to two years’

imprisonment and ordered to pay $4,700 (£3,866) in compensation.

Although the boys’ lawyer appealed the sentence, arguing it was far too

lenient, the supreme court released El Hassine on bail a few months later,

in clear breach of the verdict.

Five years on, with the help of lawyers and activists, the boys have taken

their case to the regional court of the African Committee of Experts on

the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a body of the African Union. Rights

groups representing the brothers are arguing that Mauritania has failed

to prosecute those responsible for enslaving them effectively. They point

out that the boys have been denied an education and physically abused,

in breach of Mauritania’s obligations under the African charter on

children’s rights and welfare.

Minority Rights Group International (MRG), which along with Mauritanian

human rights group SOS Esclaves is acting on behalf of the brothers, said

it was a good sign the regional court had declared the case admissible

nine months after it was opened.


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