Slaveryis a major concern and a hidden act worldwide, which is addressed in in Article4 of universal declaration of human rights, 1948 stating that “no one shall beheld in slavery or servitude; slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited inall their forms.” Alongside The Slavery Conventions act 1926 stating “slaveryis the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powersattaching to the right ownership are exercised”.
International bill of rightsis found in the twin instruments of the international covenant on civil andpolitical 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 asan individual and as a member of a wider society. Their main function is toprotect people from the actions of oppressive governments, and the international covenant oneconomics, social and cultural rights which explicitly outlines the rights ofindividuals, stating 1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and theslave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
2. No one shall beheld 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. Ituses a committee to consider human rights reports, and works towards grantingsocial, economic and cultural rights to individuals. Mauritania have signed andratified the UDHR, ICESCR, ICPPR, as well as the abolition of forced labourconvention, and the un charter. Relevant domestic law Despite key principles ofUniversal Declaration of Human Rights embedded in their constitution and theintroduction of laws strictly criminalising slavery within the country, this issueis ever present in Mauritania today, with CNN reporting that 4% to 20% of theirpopulation is enslaved today.
During August 2007, the Mauritanian governmentpassed Law 2007-048, criminalising the practice of slavery with a punishment ofup to 10 years imprisonment. With the encouragement of the United Nations (UN)and international community Mauritania has signed and ratified a number ofinternational treaties aimed to combat Human Trafficking, including the Slavery Convention and the Forced Labour Convention. In March2013, Mauritania president established the national agency to fight againstslavery which outlined a national plan of action. In august 2015, amendment tothe law 2007-048 was amended to increase the maximum prison sentence for thecrime of slavery from 10 years to 20 years.
International anddomestic case example With 43,000 people enslaved inMauritania today, in 2011, the first and only slave owner Ahmed ould elhassine, was found guilty in the criminal court of Nouakchott of holding themin schooling, and depriving them of schooling, only receiving an inadequatesentence of 2 years imprisonment, and was ordered to pay compensation of MRO1.35 million ($6135 AUD). However, the offender was released on bail thefollowing year and now lives freely, despite this unprecedented conviction, thegovernment has not pursued investigations, prosecutions or convictions forslavery crimes since. In the case between R v Wel Tang 2006, theeffectiveness of the law within Australia is exemplified as Ms. Tang wasrightfully sentenced to 9 years, imprisonment after being found guilty ofsexual exploitation with practices like slavery. March 2010, twoHungarian men, Joszef Budai, 24, and Andrea Novak, 20, who trafficked youngwomen into Britain and forced them to work in north London as sex slaves wereeach jailed for eight years, after being convicted of a string of traffickingand prostitution offences.
through these cases, only one slave owner convicted,that Mauritania slavery law states that the punishment included up to 10 yearsimprisonment, it is evident that that the Mauritian law is unfair andineffective, which is a reason why slavery numbers continue to increase. Effectiveness of legalresponse The effectiveness of these legalresponses is questionable, though these international laws like internationalbill of rights, has promoted human rights and have inspired over 200 differentinternational treaties, conventions, declarations, and constitution. Theeffectiveness of these treaties have put pressure on other countries to signand enforce these documents to help protect and recognize the individual’sinherent rights. In addition, International labour organization hascontributed in assisting and promoting basic labour and human rights at workacross the globe for example the Forced Labour Conventions 1930 prohibits allforms of forced or compulsory labour. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these laws is severely reduceddue to state sovereignty and poor rule of law within Mauritania. With the’White Moors’ controlling the economy, government, military and police forcethe system in fairly corrupt.
The government provides no support towards thoseseeking legal aid and often dismisses cases presented before them. The Dailymaverick article argues that despite legislation, Mauritanian still tops theslave chart despite banning the practice 10 years ago. With Mauritianbeing a 3rd world country, this arises many issues like legal and informationaccess, resource efficiency and equality, with an estimated 42% of thepopulation in poverty. Effectiveness ofnon-legal responses Whilst there are many responseswithin the legal system towards the issues in Mauritania, non-legal responsessuch as the media, support groups and NGO’s play an important role in spreadingawareness and providing aid to those affected by slavery. Formed in 1994 SOSEsclaves was established to campaign against trafficking worldwide. Today thisNGO works in Mauritania providing support for those free from slavery; offeringlegal assistance, financial support, shelter and employment opportunities.
As aresult of SOS Esclaves dedication and determination they contributedsignificantly in the push towards the new legislation criminalising slavery inMauritania and rehabilitated hundreds of people lucky enough to escapeenslavement. Anti-slavery international is one of the world’s oldest non-legalhuman rights organization, founded in 1839. Anti-slavery international is aglobal organization that aims to eliminate all levels of slavery at localnational and world-wide levels. Other NGO’s like amnesty international andhuman rights watch all work to recognize and protect these human rights. Themedia is highly evident in exposing human rights issue both domestically andinternationally raising understanding and public awareness an opinion. Othermajor effects are that it will embarrass government and individuals who abusehuman rights by exposing acts to the public, pressuring them into obeying humanrights.
Though, these non-legal responses have been effective inhighlighting this human right issue and promote human rights. However, theseorganizations cannot be enforced due to them not being a governmentalorganization, and without sufficient resources, improvements can only be madeat slow extents because of the millions affected by slavery. Future outlook With over 36million people still enslaved, these international and domestic laws are effectiveto an extent, reducing the number of people enslaved over the world, howeverthe number of modern day slavery is still a high number making these lawsineffective, 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 mentalissues. Education is a fundamental part in learning human rights and therefore theyhave a lack of understanding their rights. lack of resources and access ofrights discourage people from speaking up and also slave owners also threatenthe slaves for speaking up. Poverty in Mauritania and other third worldcountries causes families to sell their children as slaves, they governmentneeds to improve their financial stability of the country to help people out ofpoverty. Being a male dominate country, equality of the law is an issue thatarise in Mauritian and other countries. Slavery has been issue, that willcontinue in the future, with different laws, and treaties the number of slavescan decreased, but still be a human rights issue.