is a major concern and a hidden act worldwide, which is addressed in in Article
4 of universal declaration of human rights, 1948 stating that “no one shall be
held in slavery or servitude; slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited in
all their forms.” Alongside The Slavery Conventions act 1926 stating “slavery
is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers
attaching to the right ownership are exercised”. International bill of rights
is found in the twin instruments of the international covenant on civil and
political rights (ICCPR) which was formed in 1966 but came into force in 1976,
civil and political rights relates to the treatment of the individual both as
an individual and as a member of a wider society. Their main function is to
protect people from the actions of oppressive governments, and the international covenant on
economics, social and cultural rights which explicitly outlines the rights of
individuals, stating 1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the
slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited. 2. No one shall be
held in servitude. The international covenant on civil and political rights,
(ICESCR) formed in 1966 but like the ICPPR did not come to force until 1976,
recognizes the rights to self-determination and the abuse of discrimination. It
uses a committee to consider human rights reports, and works towards granting
social, economic and cultural rights to individuals. Mauritania have signed and
ratified the UDHR, ICESCR, ICPPR, as well as the abolition of forced labour
convention, and the un charter.  

Relevant domestic law

Despite key principles of
Universal Declaration of Human Rights embedded in their constitution and the
introduction of laws strictly criminalising slavery within the country, this issue
is ever present in Mauritania today, with CNN reporting that 4% to 20% of their
population is enslaved today. During August 2007, the Mauritanian government
passed Law 2007-048, criminalising the practice of slavery with a punishment of
up to 10 years imprisonment. With the encouragement of the United Nations (UN)
and international community Mauritania has signed and ratified a number of
international treaties aimed to combat Human Trafficking, including the Slavery Convention and the Forced Labour Convention. In March
2013, Mauritania president established the national agency to fight against
slavery which outlined a national plan of action. In august 2015, amendment to
the law 2007-048 was amended to increase the maximum prison sentence for the
crime of slavery from 10 years to 20 years.


International and
domestic case example

With 43,000 people enslaved in
Mauritania today, in 2011, the first and only slave owner Ahmed ould el
hassine, was found guilty in the criminal court of Nouakchott of holding them
in schooling, and depriving them of schooling, only receiving an inadequate
sentence of 2 years imprisonment, and was ordered to pay compensation of MRO
1.35 million ($6135 AUD). However, the offender was released on bail the
following year and now lives freely, despite this unprecedented conviction, the
government has not pursued investigations, prosecutions or convictions for
slavery crimes since.  In the case between R v Wel Tang 2006, the
effectiveness of the law within Australia is exemplified as Ms. Tang was
rightfully sentenced to 9 years, imprisonment after being found guilty of
sexual exploitation with practices like slavery. March 2010, two
Hungarian men, Joszef Budai, 24, and Andrea Novak, 20, who trafficked young
women into Britain and forced them to work in north London as sex slaves were
each jailed for eight years, after being convicted of a string of trafficking
and prostitution offences. through these cases, only one slave owner convicted,
that Mauritania slavery law states that the punishment included up to 10 years
imprisonment, it is evident that that the Mauritian law is unfair and
ineffective, which is a reason why slavery numbers continue to increase.


Effectiveness of legal

The effectiveness of these legal
responses is questionable, though these international laws like international
bill of rights, has promoted human rights and have inspired over 200 different
international treaties, conventions, declarations, and constitution. The
effectiveness of these treaties have put pressure on other countries to sign
and enforce these documents to help protect and recognize the individual’s
inherent rights.  In addition, International labour organization has
contributed in assisting and promoting basic labour and human rights at work
across the globe for example the Forced Labour Conventions 1930 prohibits all
forms of forced or compulsory labour.  Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these laws is severely reduced
due to state sovereignty and poor rule of law within Mauritania. With the
‘White Moors’ controlling the economy, government, military and police force
the system in fairly corrupt. The government provides no support towards those
seeking legal aid and often dismisses cases presented before them. The Daily
maverick article argues that despite legislation, Mauritanian still tops the
slave chart despite banning the practice 10 years ago.  With Mauritian
being a 3rd world country, this arises many issues like legal and information
access, resource efficiency and equality, with an estimated 42% of the
population in poverty.


Effectiveness of
non-legal responses

Whilst there are many responses
within the legal system towards the issues in Mauritania, non-legal responses
such as the media, support groups and NGO’s play an important role in spreading
awareness and providing aid to those affected by slavery. Formed in 1994 SOS
Esclaves was established to campaign against trafficking worldwide. Today this
NGO works in Mauritania providing support for those free from slavery; offering
legal assistance, financial support, shelter and employment opportunities. As a
result of SOS Esclaves dedication and determination they contributed
significantly in the push towards the new legislation criminalising slavery in
Mauritania and rehabilitated hundreds of people lucky enough to escape
enslavement. Anti-slavery international is one of the world’s oldest non-legal
human rights organization, founded in 1839. Anti-slavery international is a
global organization that aims to eliminate all levels of slavery at local
national and world-wide levels. Other NGO’s like amnesty international and
human rights watch all work to recognize and protect these human rights. The
media is highly evident in exposing human rights issue both domestically and
internationally raising understanding and public awareness an opinion. Other
major effects are that it will embarrass government and individuals who abuse
human rights by exposing acts to the public, pressuring them into obeying human
rights.  Though, these non-legal responses have been effective in
highlighting this human right issue and promote human rights. However, these
organizations cannot be enforced due to them not being a governmental
organization, and without sufficient resources, improvements can only be made
at slow extents because of the millions affected by slavery.


Future outlook

With over 36
million people still enslaved, these international and domestic laws are effective
to an extent, reducing the number of people enslaved over the world, however
the number of modern day slavery is still a high number making these laws
ineffective, this is due to the lack of resources, equality and inefficacity.
If slavery continued, numbers of slavery will increase;
more people will be stuck in trafficking which may develop health and mental
issues. Education is a fundamental part in learning human rights and therefore they
have a lack of understanding their rights. lack of resources and access of
rights discourage people from speaking up and also slave owners also threaten
the slaves for speaking up. Poverty in Mauritania and other third world
countries causes families to sell their children as slaves, they government
needs to improve their financial stability of the country to help people out of
poverty. Being a male dominate country, equality of the law is an issue that
arise in Mauritian and other countries. Slavery has been issue, that will
continue in the future, with different laws, and treaties the number of slaves
can decreased, but still be a human rights issue.  


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