A roundtable discussion on Contemporary Slavery in Mauritania was organised by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on 10 October 2012 in the European Parliament, Brussels. The roundtable was presided by the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, and the UNPO General Secretary, Marino Busdachin.
Representatives of Amnesty International, the International Labour Organisation, Anti–Slavery International, Society for Threatened Peoples and IRA Europe all participated in a fruitful discussion, during which they could share their perspectives on the phenomenon of Contemporary Slavery in Mauritania and ask questions to the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Shahinian.
During this working session, the slavery practices that are still widespread in Mauritania were discussed. The clandestine nature of this phenomenon, together with the fact that victims of slavery are not only systematically let down by the legal system in Mauritania but are also subjected to unfair trials, discrimination at different levels and even torture, were touched upon with Ms. Shahinian when she recalled her findings from her latest visit to Mauritania. Concern was expressed by all parties, with a poignant speech delivered by Abidine Merzough, President of the European Office of Initiative for the Abolition of Slavery in Mauritania and a Mauritanian himself.
The UN Special Rapporteur reiterated the importance of raising awareness and bringing forward initiatives to help guide the European Union and the international community. Ms. Shahinian drew attention to the Road Map which she is now working on, a project that has specific action points tailored to the eradication of slavery in Mauritania. Not only did the Special Rapporteur invite all present to comment on the blueprint, but a consensus to use this project as a tool to get the international community on board was also reached in the hope that it will be the precursor to a more definite and emphatic fight against Contemporary Slavery.