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Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the arrest of a Mauritanian senator and the situation following the constitutional referendum

18.08.2017

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (18 August) on the arrest of a Mauritanian senator and the situation in the country following the constitutional referendum:

The unknown whereabouts of Senator Mohamed Ahmed Ould Ghadda, who was detained in Mauritania on 11 August without an arrest warrant, fills me with great concern. Both his family and his solicitor have so far been denied contact with him.

As a member of the Senate, Mr Ould Ghadda was protected by parliamentary immunity. His arrest contravenes the principles of the rule of law.

I am also concerned by the restrictions on freedom of assembly and opinion, as well as the general deterioration in the human rights situation in Mauritania, particularly in connection with the constitutional referendum on 5 August 2017.

I call on all political actors to seek dialogue and to resolve the current tensions peacefully and in accordance with internationally recognised regulations based on the rule of law. In the current situation in particular, all Mauritanians should work together to uphold peace and cohesion in society.

Background information:

A constitutional referendum was held in Mauritania on 5 August 2017. Despite a blanket ban on assemblies, demonstrations by those who supported a boycott took place both before and after the vote. These assemblies were broken up by the security forces, who used tear gas and batons.

On 15 August 2017, the Constitutional Council confirmed the result of the referendum after checking complaints, particularly as regards possible election fraud. On the same day, President Abdel Aziz announced a law to implement the referendum result. Among other things, this law abolishes the Senate, to which Mr Ould Ghadda had belonged, with immediate effect.

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