Death Penalty Worldwide

Mauritania

Last updated on April 5, 2011

General

Official Country Name

Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Mauritania). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Western Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. [3]

Methods of Execution

Shooting.
Firing squad. [4]

Stoning.
Stoning is the method of execution provided for adultery [5] and homosexual relations only. [6]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Mauritania, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5467.htm, Apr. 4, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[4] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 12, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[5] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[6] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.

Country Details

Language(s)

Arabic. [1]

Population

3,162,338. 3,162,338. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

At least 52. According to official figures, 37 people were under sentence of death in Mauritania in 2008. [3] One of the 8 people sentenced in 2008 [4] died in 2009, reportedly as a result of torture. [5] At least one person was sentenced to death in 2009. [6] Sixteen sentences were handed down in 2010, with two people being sentenced to death twice, in two different cases. [7] One man was sentenced to death in March 2011. [8] This brings us to a total of at least 52 individuals under sentence of death as of March 31, 2011.

During its November 2010 review by the U.N. Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, the Mauritanian delegation announced that “death penalty sentences were commuted” [9] but as of December 2010, we found no reports supporting this assertion.

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on December 12, 2014)

0. [10]

Executions in 2013

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [13]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [14]

Executions in 2009

0. [15]

Executions in 2008

0. [16]

Executions in 2007

0. [17]

Year of Last Known Execution

1987. [18]

References

[1] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, art.6, Ordinance 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended until Jun. 25, 2006.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Mauritania, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5467.htm, Apr. 4, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report st 52.2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 19, ACT 50/003/2009,Mar. 24, 2009.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania: The Human Rights Council cannot ignore the systematic use of torture, AFR38/003/2010, Nov. 3, 2010.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 8, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action, Three Men Sentenced To Death After Torture, AFR 38/002/2010, May 27, 2010; La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessed Mar. 23, 2010; La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, Mauritanie : 3 jihadist es condamnes, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=4625, Oct. 20, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[8] Agence mondiale d’information – AFP, Mauritanie: un islamiste condamné à mort, Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=5020, Mar. 15, 2011.
[9] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Mauritania, p. 8, para. 47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/9/L.15, Nov. 15, 2010.
[10] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009,Mar. 24, 2009.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008,Apr. 15, 2008.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Planned or premeditated murder, [1] parricide, [2] poisoning, [3] infanticide, [4] murder of a judge or public official in the course of his duties, [5] and murder committed in order to commit cannibalism [6] are punished by death.

Murder.
Where the perpetrator and the victim share the same religion, the Penal Code defines simple murder as a “qisas” or equivalent retaliation offense, [7] which under Shari’a law (as applied) can mean application of the death penalty for intentional killing or killing that results from indifference to human life. [8] Murder is therefore punished by death (except where one of the victim’s heirs grants clemency, either freely given or in exchange for payment of diyya, compensation). [9]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
When they result in death, the following offenses are punishable by death: torturing a kidnapped or sequestrated person, [10] kidnapping a minor, [11] abandoning a child or an incapacitated person, [12] assaulting a judge or public official in the course of his duties, [13] arson (or destruction by explosive device), [14] and the voluntary destruction of buildings, bridges, dams or roads. [15]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
The recent anti-terrorism legislation passed in July 2010 greatly expands the number of death-eligible offenses. Under the law, any terrorist act is punishable by death if it causes the death of one or more persons. [16] The law sets out an exceptionally broad definition of what constitutes terrorism.

Any of 24 offenses set out in Articles 4 to 6, if committed with terrorist intent, is a terrorist offense. Terrorist intent, as defined in Article 3, is the intent to commit an act in order to seriously intimidate the population, compel the authorities to act in a certain manner, pervert society’s fundamental values, destabilize constitutional, political, economic or social institutions, or harm the interests of a foreign country or an international organization.

The 24 offenses cover a vast range of activities, including: endangering the security of the state; [17] endangering the lives, bodily integrity, or freedom of persons; [18] cyber-criminality; [19] producing, transporting or using explosives or weapons; [20] endangering the safety of air or sea navigation systems; [21] money-laundering; [22] receiving stolen goods; [23] destroying infrastructure or transportation systems; [24] interfering with the distribution of water, electricity, or telecommunications; [25] spreading toxic substances; [26] providing or receiving training to commit a terrorist act; [27] participating in a group created to commit a terrorist act; [28] assisting, supporting or funding a person or group to commit a terrorist act; [29] inciting to terrorism; [30] failing to inform authorities of any information relating to the preparation of a terrorist act; [31] hijacking any means of transportation; [32] or threatening to do any of the above. [33]

The adoption of the 2010 anti-terrorism law was very controversial. Nearly one third of Parliament – including members of the presidential party – challenged the constitutionality of the law before the Constitutional Council. The Council deemed a dozen articles contrary to the Constitution, including Articles 3, 4 and 5 which define terrorism in terms that criminalized a long list of activities, and article 21, which provides for the death penalty. [34] By March 2011, we were unable to ascertain whether the final version of the law incorporated the Constitutional Council’s holdings.

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Mauritania’s law sets forth the houdoud penalty for rape—death (without flogging) if the offender is married, and flogging and hard labor (as a substitute for exile) if the offender is unmarried. [35] The rape of a child is punished in the same way as the rape of an adult. [36]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Armed robbery and attempted armed robbery (i.e. breaking into a dwelling at night or laying in wait on a public road at any time, while bearing a weapon, with the intent to forcefully take property, whether or not any property is actually taken) is punishable by death. [37]

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Arson (or destruction by explosive device) of inhabited dwellings or occupied vehicles is punishable by death. [38]

Adultery.
Adultery is defined under Islamic law as voluntary sexual relations without the substance of a legal right, whether or not the adulterer is married. [39] A Muslim person who commits adultery is punished by death if he or she is married or divorced. [40] Stringent rules of evidence apply: adultery must be proved by 4 witnesses, a confession, or, for women with no legal partner, pregnancy. [41]

Apostasy.
Apostasy by word or by deed is punished by death, unless the defendant repents. In particular, refusing to pray despite acknowledging prayer’s obligatory nature is punished by death, if one persists in this refusal until the end of a set period. [42]

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Adults of Same Sex.
Sexual relations between Muslim men are punished by death. [43]

Treason.
Treason, attempted treason, provocation or offer to commit treason and other crimes against the security of the state are punishable by death. [44] As of December 2010, we were unable to locate the legislation defining military offenses, which is reported also to impose the death penalty for treason. [45]

Espionage.
Espionage and provocation or offer to commit espionage are punishable by death. [46]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Repeat offenses: a repeat offender who was previously sentenced to forced labor for life and who commits a second offense carrying the same penalty is punishable by death. If the first sentence was handed down by a military court, the first offense must also be punishable under civil criminal law in order to trigger the repeat offender rule. [47]
- Torture: Committing acts of torture or barbarous acts in the course of committing a crime is punishable by death. [48]
- Perjury: Perjury [49] and intentional mistranslation of documents or speech, [50] leading to another’s death sentence, is punishable by death.
- Accomplice: An accomplice to a crime receives the same sentence as the person who committed the crime. An accomplice to a death-eligible crime is thus punishable by death, unless the law specifically provides otherwise. [51] Any person who furnishes a known criminal with a place to live, to rest or to meet is considered an accomplice. [52]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. Article 59 of the Penal Code establishes that the Code dictates whether discretion may be exercised in sentencing—if the Code permits it, the Code is the ultimate authority. However, Article 437 of the Penal Code, describing universally applicable discretionary sentencing, limits the application of discretionary sentencing to offenses carrying correctional penalties. Offenses carrying houdoud or qisas penalties (as outlined by Article 1 and referenced throughout the Code) are thus unaffected by Article 437. The penalties designated as houdoud or qisas throughout the code are mandatory penalties, and include the mandatory death penalty.

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Aggravated Murder.
Planned or premeditated murder, [53] parricide, [54] poisoning, [55] infanticide, [56] murder of a judge or public official in the course of his duties, [57] and murder committed in order to commit cannibalism [58] are punished by a mandatory death penalty.

Murder.
Where the perpetrator and the victim share the same religion, the perpetrator will only be spared the death penalty if one of the victim’s heirs grants clemency, either freely given or in exchange for payment of diyya, or compensation. [59]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Rape is punished by the houdoud penalty (death) if the rapist is married. [60] The statute does not explicitly demand the evidentiary requirements traditionally applicable for authorizing the houdoud punishment. [61] It is unclear to us whether the evidentiary requirements mentioned in another article apply, [62] or whether some rapes are punished with a discretionary death penalty. [63] The rape of a child is punished in the same way as the rape of an adult. [64]

Adultery.
Adultery (zina) is defined under Islamic law as voluntary sexual relations without the substance of a legal right, whether or not the adulterer is married. [65] A Muslim person who commits adultery is punished by death if he or she is married or divorced. [66] Stringent rules of evidence apply: adultery must be proved by 4 witnesses, a confession, or, for women with no legal partner, pregnancy. [67]

Apostasy.
Apostasy by word or by deed is punished by a mandatory death sentence, unless the defendant repents. In particular, refusing to pray despite acknowledging prayer’s obligatory nature is punished by death, if one persists in this refusal until the end of a set period.

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Adults of Same Sex.
Sexual relations between Muslim men are punished by death, [68] but we are unsure whether this penalty is houdoud (and therefore mandatory):

The Penal Code describes the offense of zina [69] (a sexual offense that includes adultery, fornication, rape and homosexual conduct in most schools), [70] and imposes the traditional evidentiary requirements of a confession, testimony of four witnesses, or (when applicable) pregnancy. [71] The penalty for zina is a houdoud penalty, mandatory death. [72] In a separate article, the Code assigns the death penalty for sexual relations between men, without explicitly requiring the elements of zina. [73] More precisely, the Code does not require that the offenders be married, [74] does not appear to limit the offense to sodomy, and does not state evidentiary requirements. [75] Under the Maliki school (Mauritania is a Maliki-influenced jurisdiction), [76] the houdoud penalty can apply whether or not the participants in homosexual relations are married, [77] but the other elements of zina should still apply.

The Code might be interpreted as requiring the elements of zina for application of the death penalty as houdoud, [78] the Code might be interpreted as authorizing a ta’zir (corrective) penalty for all homosexual conduct, [79] or the Code might be interpreted as authorizing a houdoud or ta’zir death penalty for homosexual conduct, depending on the circumstances. In cases of ta’zir (corrective) penalties, Article 437 (allowing discretionary sentencing for crimes receiving corrective penalties) might technically apply.

Comments.
There are cases where it is unclear whether a penalty applies as hudud, potentially preventing application of Article 437 (allowing discretionary sentencing for offenses receiving corrective penalties). If considered hudud, the offenses would carry the mandatory death penalty. Armed robbery might be considered to carry the death penalty as hudud, [80] although the statute did not specify. (We did not classify this offense as carrying the mandatory death penalty.)

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

No individual has been executed in Mauritania since 1987. [81]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
In 2008, the Mauritian government stated to the Committee for the Rights of the Child that Mauritian law excludes the application of the death penalty to minors. [82] This is in conformity with Mauritania’s international human rights obligations as a party to the ICCPR [83] and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [84] which prohibit the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

We note, however, that while Mauritanian law clearly excludes minors aged less than 15 years from the death penalty, it is not clear whether children aged between 15 and 18 may be sentenced to death. The 2005 Code on the Judicial Protection of Children [Ordonnance portant protection pénale de l’enfant] sets out the reduced sentencing scheme applicable to minors aged less than 15 years. Under the Ordinance, children aged between 7 and 15 may only be sentenced to “protective measures”, which excludes imprisonment in adult jails and presumably the death penalty. [85] The Ordinance makes no mention of minors older than 15 years.

Pregnant Women.
Pregnant women may not be executed before they have given birth to their child. [86] This is in conformity with Mauritania’s international human rights obligations under the ICCPR, [87] which prohibits the execution of pregnant women.

Women With Small Children.
Mauritania has ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights [88] and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [89] which respectively exclude nursing mothers from execution [90] and prohibit the imposition of a death sentence on mothers of infants and young children. [91]

Mentally Ill.
A person who was insane at the time of the offense is not criminally liable. [92]

References

[1] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 272-274, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[2] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[3] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[4] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[5] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 215, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[6] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[7] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 280, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[8] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, pp. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[9] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 280, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[10] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 322, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[11] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 333, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[12] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 328, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[13] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 213, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983. This is a qisas offense.
[14] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 410, 411, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[15] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 413, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[16] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 17, Jul. 21, 2010.
[17] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.1, Jul. 21, 2010.
[18] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.2, Jul. 21, 2010.
[19] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.3, Jul. 21, 2010.
[20] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, arts. 4.5, 4.6, Jul. 21, 2010.
[21] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.4, Jul. 21, 2010.
[22] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.8, Jul. 21, 2010.
[23] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 4.7, Jul. 21, 2010.
[24] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 5.1, Jul. 21, 2010.
[25] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 5.3, Jul. 21, 2010.
[26] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, arts. 5.2, 5.4, Jul. 21, 2010.
[27] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, arts. 6.2, 6.3, Jul. 21, 2010.
[28] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 6.1, Jul. 21, 2010.
[29] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, arts. 6.5, 6.6, 6.8, 6.9, Jul. 21, 2010.
[30] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 6.7, Jul. 21, 2010.
[31] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 6.10, Jul. 21, 2010.
[32] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 6.11, Jul. 21, 2010.
[33] Anti-Terrorism Law Abrogating and Replacing Law No. 2005-047, dated Jul. 26, 2005, Law No. 2010-035, art. 6.12, Jul. 21, 2010.
[34] Alkarama, Mauritania, Universal periodic Review (UPR), p. 3, http://en.alkarama.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=591:mauritania-human-rights-council-reviews-mauritania&catid=28:communiqu&Itemid=144, Apr. 22, 2010.
[35] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 309, 310, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983; Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 51, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 68, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 18-19, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[36] Code on the Judicial Protection of Children, Ordinance No. 2005-015, art. 24, Dec. 5, 2005.
[37] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 353-354, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[38] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 410, 411, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[39] Dr. NagatySanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 51, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[40] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[41] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[42] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 306, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[43] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[44] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 67-69, 88, 90, 92, 95, 96, 122, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[45] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 174, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[46] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 70, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[47] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 50, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[48] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 279, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[49] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 341, 344, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[50] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 347, 344, 341, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[51] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 53, 54, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983. See e.g. Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 354 (accomplice to armed robbery), Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[52] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 55, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[53] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 272-274, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[54] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[55] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[56] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[57] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 215, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[58] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 278, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[59] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 280, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983. M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, pp. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[60] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 309, 310, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[61] Compare Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983; with Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 309, 310, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64-68, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[62] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[63] Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. Corrective (ta’zir) penalties are usually lesser than houdoud penalties, but can be as severe as houdoud penalties in some cases. M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 277, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 108-110, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[64] Code on the Judicial Protection of Children, Ordinance No. 2005-015, art. 24, Dec. 5, 2005.
[65] Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 51, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[66] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[67] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[68] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[69] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[70] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64-68, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[71] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[72] Lesser penalties apply for unmarried offenders. Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[73] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[74] Zina involving heterosexual intercourse carries lesser penalties for unmarried offenders. Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[75] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[76] Maslaha, Schools of Islam and Their Differences, http://www.maslaha.org/articles/islam-past-and-present/schools-islamic-law-and-their-differences, last accessed Apr. 6, 2011.
[77] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 67-68, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[78] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 307 cum 308, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[79] Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991
[80] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 77-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 261, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[81] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessedMar. 23, 2011.
[82] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under Article 44 of the Convention: Second periodic report of States parties due in 1998: Mauritania, p. 48, para. 227, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/MRT/2, Jul. 30, 2008. Code on the Judicial Protection of Children, Ordinance No. 2005-015, arts. 2, 5, Dec. 5, 2005.
[83] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 26, 2010.
[84] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989,http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en#Participants, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[85] Code on the Judicial Protection of Children, Ordinance No. 2005-015, arts. 2, 5, Dec. 5, 2005.
[86] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 17, 307, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[87] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[88] A.U., List of Countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women In Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 22, 2010.
[89] A.U, List of Countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to The African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child, Doc. 0003,http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[90] A.U., Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women In Africa, art. 4.2.j),http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/Text/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 11, 2003.
[91] A.U., African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child, art. 30,e, A.U. Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, Jul. 11, 1990.
[92] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 58, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Nov. 17, 2004. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [4]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [5]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [6]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [8]

Date of Accession

Jun. 14, 1986. [9]

Signed?

Yes. [10]

Date of Signature

Feb. 25, 1982. [11]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Yes. [12]

Date of Accession

Sep. 21, 2005. [13]

Signed?

No. [14]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [15]

Date of Accession

Sep. 21, 2005. [16]

Signed?

No. [17]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

No. [18]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [19]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Abstained. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

Abstained. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [25]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [26]

Vote

Abstained. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [28]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [29]

Vote

Against. [30]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [31]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[8] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[9] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[10] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[11] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[12] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[13] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[14] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[15] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[16] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[17] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[18] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[19] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[20] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[21] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[22] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[23] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[24] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[25] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[26] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[27] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[28] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[29] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[30] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[31] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Under Article 13 of the Constitution, the “inviolability of the human person” is guaranteed by the State. [1] The Constitution does not guarantee the right to life. [2] In the National Report submitted for its 2010 Universal Periodic Review, the government of Mauritania affirmed that capital punishment was legal. [3]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Under Article 80 of the Constitution, ratified treaties and agreements have an authority superior to that of national laws as soon as they are published. [4] In the Constitution’s Preamble, the Mauritanian People proclaims its attachment to Islam and to the principles of democracy as they have been defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, as well as by the other international conventions to which Mauritania has subscribed. [5]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Mauritania’s last execution took place in 1987, [6] but courts still issue death sentences. [7] but courts still issue death sentences. [8] but courts still issue death sentences. [9] In 2007, Mauritania voted against the U.N.G.A. Moratorium Resolution [10] and signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation. [11] The following year, it abstained both from voting on the Resolution [12] and from signing the Note Verbale. [13]

At its 2010 Universal Periodic Review, Mauritania emphasized that no executions had been carried out for 23 years. However, Mauritania declined to characterize the situation as a moratorium, stating instead that it would “examine” a moratorium option, and consider “possible alternatives…in accordance with the country’s penal policy”. [14]

At the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council, in March 2011, Mauritania rejected the recommendations to abolish the death penalty that emerged from its Universal Periodic Review. [15] It “reaffirmed its de facto abolitionist position”, [16] but refrained once again from employing the term moratorium.

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. While other states used the term “de facto moratorium” at Mauritania’s 2010 Universal Periodic Review, [17] the Mauritanian government itself refrained from employing the term. [18] Instead, Mauritania stated that it would “examine” the moratorium “as part of the current reform process”, that “possible alternatives would be considered”, and that “conclusions would be reached in accordance with the country’s penal policy.” [19]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

As of December 2010, we had not found any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in Mauritanian courts.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Selected decisions of the Supreme Court and all the decisions of the Constitutional Council (Conseil constitutionnel) are published in the Official Gazette in Arabic. [20]

What is the clemency process?

When a death sentence is final, the Public Prosecutor communicates the information to the Minister of Justice. No execution may take place before clemency has been denied. [21]

The president has the power to grant pardons and commutations of sentences. [22]

Persons convicted of murder, a qisasor equivalent retribution crime, may be granted clemency by one of the victim’s heirs, either freely given or in exchange for payment of diyya, compensation. [23] Persons convicted of some aggravated murders cannot benefit from such clemency according to the Penal Code, [24] although it might be unlikely in practice that a court would ignore the wishes of a victim’s family.

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

The Criminal Courts, which have jurisdiction over capital cases, [25] are each composed of three professional magistrates and two jurors. [26]

The 2005 Code on the Judicial Protection of Children provides that special criminal courts are to be established to try juvenile offenders aged 15 and older who are charged with felonies. Juvenile offenders before these courts are to be tried by three judges and two jurors chosen from among childhood experts. [27] As of December 2010, we were unable to determine whether the special criminal courts were functional.

As of December 2010, we had not been able to locate the legislation governing military offenses. It is unlikely, however, that jurors sit on military courts.

Brief Description of Appellate Process

The Criminal Courts try capital cases. [28] Appeals are lodged before the Courts of Appeal. [29] The Court of Appeal’s decisions can in turn be appealed before the Supreme Court, but on matters of law only. [30] The Supreme Court must give priority to capital cases and hand down its decision within three months. [31] If the Supreme Court overturns the decision of the Court of Appeal, the defendant will be retried either by another Court of Appeal, or by the same Court of Appeal but composed of different judges. [32] The Court entrusted with the retrial must issue its decision within a month. [33]

In 2008, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention observed during a visit to Rosso that “convicted persons did not receive a complete copy of their sentence, which effectively nullifies their right (…) to have the guilty verdict and the sentence reviewed by a higher court.” [34]

Collateral review is also provided for by the Code of Penal Procedure. There are four situations in which the prosecutor, the defendant or the defendant’s family may ask the Supreme Court to review the case and give it a full retrial. All four relate to the appearance of new facts or evidence calling into question the guilt of the death-sentenced person. [35]

As of December 2010, we were not able to locate the legislation governing the trial of military offenses.

References

[1] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Art.13, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended through Jun. 25, 2006.
[2] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Ordinance 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended through Jun. 25, 2006. Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, Mauritania, p. 12, para. 49, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/9/MRT/1, Aug. 23, 2010.
[4] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, art.80, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended until Jun. 25, 2006.
[5] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Preamble, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended until Jun. 25, 2006.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action, Three Men Sentenced To Death After Torture, AFR 38/002/2010, May 27, 2010.
[8] La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, La peine de mort – Mauritanie, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=182, last accessed Nov. 29, 2010.
[9] La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, Mauritanie : 3 jihadist es condamnes, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=4625, Oct. 20, 2010.
[10] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[11] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.
[12] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc.A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[13] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, p. 8, para. 47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[15] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Human Rights Council on its 16th session: Vice-President and Rapporteur: Ms.Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway), p. 88, para. 544, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/L.41, Mar. 25, 2011.
[16] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Human Rights Council on its 16th session: Vice-President and Rapporteur: Ms.Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway), p. 88, para. 544, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/L.41, Mar. 25, 2011.
[17] Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, paras. 16, 51, 54, 82, 92.4, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[18] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, Mauritania, p. 12, para. 49, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/9/MRT/1, Aug. 23, 2010.
[19] Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, p. 8, para. 47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[20] Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[21] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 641, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[22] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Art.37, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended through Jun. 25, 2006.
[23] Penal Code of Mauritania, art. 280, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[24] Penal Code of Mauritania, arts. 280, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[25] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, arts.222, 181, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[26] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 229, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[27] Codeon the Judicial Protection of Children, Ordinance No. 2005-015, arts. 142, 145, Dec. 5, 2005.
[28] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, arts. 222, 181, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[29] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, arts. 456, 460, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[30] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 529, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[31] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 555, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[32] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 560, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[33] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 560, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[34] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 58, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[35] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, arts.569, 570, 572,Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

In 2008, death-sentenced prisoners were reported to be “held together with other prisoners in six prisons, including Dar Naïm and Nouadhibou prisons.” [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

As of December 2010, we did not find any specific information about death row conditions in Mauritania. However, Amnesty International produced comprehensive reports on the alarming state of Mauritanian prisons after conducting prison visits in 2008 and 2010.

The most recent Amnesty investigation took place in September / October 2010. Amnesty reported that “security forces continue to systematically use torture and ill-treatment and that conditions of detention in several prisons remain deplorable. Torture continues to be used as a method of investigation and repression against all types of detainees in Mauritania, men and women, alleged Islamists and people arrested for common-law offences.” [2] Amnesty also expressed concern about the absence of health care and the serious overcrowding of prisons. “Prisoners detained at Nouakchott and Nouadhibou are squeezed together in their cells in whatis often stifling heat. These prisoners are almost never allowed to leave their cell or have access to fresh air, often for months, sometimes for years.” [3]

Following an earlier investigation conducted in 2008, Amnesty observed the “complete lack of control of prison life by the judicial authorities” in the 3 prisons visited by the delegation. Amnesty reported that the food was of poor quality and the sanitation inadequate. Interviewed prisoners revealed that those suffering from dementia and mental disorders were left to wander around the cells with no medical care. At least two of these were death-sentenced prisoners. [4]

When Amnesty delegates visited the Dar Naïm prison in July 2008, 6 months after its inauguration, they found that “it was already in a deplorable state, marked by overcrowding and unsanitary conditions”. [5] During the visit, the delegation “heard prisoners banging on their cell doors, and observed that the prisoners had been put into tiny cells, where they had to sleep on the floor, with no room to stretch out. The cells were infested with cockroaches and fleas and had no ventilation or windows except one small opening in the door which to pass food through. These prisoners, many of whom had been in these cells for over ten days, were under disciplinary measures.” [6] Prison officials “confirmed that the prisons in Dar Naïm andin Nouadhibou did not meet national standards. In particular, they stressed inadequacies in the water disposal system, damp and the lack of ventilation in cells.” [7]

Amnesty concluded in its 2008 report that “the deplorable situation that prevails in places of detention of Mauritania (…) appears to be less the consequence of a lack of human and material resources and more the result of deliberate action designed to humiliate detainees, or of serious negligence on the part of the authorities.” [8]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. At least six foreign nationals are currently under sentence of death in Mauritania. [9]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Three Nigerians, two Guineans and one Gambian were sentenced to death in June 2010. [10]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

As of December 2010, we found no reports of women currently under sentence of death in Mauritania.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

As of December 2010, we found no reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

As of December 2010, we found no information regarding specific discriminatory sentencing practices in capital cases. However, in a 2008 report, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that “social inequality and racial disparities sometimes undermine the principle of equality before the law, which is a matter of concern in a country with as much ethnic and cultural diversity as Mauritania. Many of the people interviewed by the delegation maintained that it was above all the members of certain population groups who were in detention, and that others, protected by their families or ethnic groups, were able to avoid it.” [11] The judiciary is not representative of the ethnic, linguistic, or social composition of the country’s population. There is only one female judge in the country. Persons who do not speak Arabic find themselves excluded from the arabized judicial system. [12]

In a 2009 report, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, concluded that“while there are no manifestations of legally endorsed or State-approved racism in the country, Mauritanian society has been deeply marked by continuing discriminatory practices of an ethnic and racial nature, rooted in cultural traditions and pervasively present in social structures, the principal institutions of the State, in particular the armed forces and justice system, and attitudes. (…) The pervasiveness of a culture of racism and discrimination is the greatest obstacle to the establishment of democracy and respect for human rights in Mauritanian society.” [13] The state’s language policy gives priority to Arabic and excludes the black Mauritanian languages. This discriminatory policy is particularly clear in the education system, the judicial system and the media. [14]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Mauritanian law provides for the free legal representation of indigent people facing capital charges. The indicting chamber may not put a defendant on trial before the Criminal Court without appointing him a lawyer, if he has not retained one already. [15] Moreover, the president of the Criminal Court must assign counsel to the defendant if he appears before the court without one. [16]

However, in practice, as reported by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, assistance provided by court-appointed attorneys is “provided only during the hearing before the investigating judge and the reading of the judgment; the presence of counsel is mostly a mere formality.” With regard to political prisoners, however, the Working Group was informed that “the bar has always organized and provided free defense for all prisoners of conscience.” [17]

The U.N. Working Groupalso reported that “legal assistance from a court-appointed attorney, when provided, is mostly ineffective, as it is not remunerated.”This is particularly worrying when one considers that most detainees are dependent on legal aid. [18]

According to Amnesty International, a number of prisoners under sentence of death claimed in 2008 that “their trials had been unfair, asserting that they were not allowed to defend themselves properly or that they did not have a lawyer.” [19]

In March 2010, the President of the National Bar Association requested that a proper legalaid system be put in place. [20]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

As of December 2010, we found no legislation or official information pertaining to the legal aid system before the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

However, in practice, as reported by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, assistance provided by court-appointed attorneys is “provided only during the hearing before the investigating judge and the reading of the judgment; the presence of counsel is mostly a mere formality.” With regard to political prisoners, however, the Working Group was informed that “the bar has always organized and provided free defense for all prisoners of conscience.” [21]

The U.N. Working Group also reported that “legal assistance from a court-appointed attorney, when provided, is mostly ineffective, as it is not remunerated.” This is particularly worrying when one considers that most detainees are dependent on legal aid. [22]

According to Amnesty International, a number of prisoners under sentence of death claimed in 2008 that “their trials had been unfair, asserting that they were not allowed to defend themselves properly or that they did not have a lawyer.” [23]

In March 2010, the President of the National Bar Association requested that a proper legal aid system be put in place. [24]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reported that “legal assistance from a court-appointed attorney, when provided, is mostly ineffective, as it is not remunerated.” This is particularly worrying when one knows that most detainees are dependent on legal aid in Mauritania. [25] A lawyer appointed by a court may not refuse his mandate. [26] Trainee lawyers may be appointed as defense counsel, although they are not yet authorized to practice without supervision in any other situation. [27]

The Working Group also mentioned that “while persons accused of a crime do receive assistance from a court-appointed attorney, in practice such assistance is provided only during the hearing before the investigating judge and the reading of the judgment; the presence of counsel is mostly a mere formality.” [28]

In 2005, Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort interviewed one of the lawyers representing the 184 persons accused of organizing a coup and put on trial in January 2005. He reported that the defense lawyers had received daily threats and that one of them had been arrested on the pretext of being in contempt of court and detained for three days, 200km away from the proceedings. [29]

As of January 2009, there were only 264 lawyers in Mauritania. [30]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

The legal system of Mauritania is a mix of French civil law and sharia law. [31] In the 1980s, the judicial system was transformed by the state policy of arabisation and islamisation. A 1983 law abolished the distinction between Islamic and modern courts and replaced it with a unified court system that was to apply Sharia law. Islam is constitutionally recognized as “the religion of the people and of the State”, [32] and the Constitution’s Preamble affirms that Islam is “the only source of law”. [33] However, according to one commentator, “this theoretical predominance of Sharia law has not fundamentally altered the Civil Law foundation upon which the legal system has been developed”. [34]

The use of torture is pervasive within the police and penitentiary system. Following an investigation conducted in September / October 2010, Amnesty reported that “[t]orture continues to be used as a method of investigation and repression against all types of detainees in Mauritania, men and women, alleged Islamists and people arrested for common-law offences.” [35] In fact, Amnesty observed that torture was the only means of investigation employed by the security forces in the last two decades, [36] and concluded that torture is “deeply anchored in the culture of the security forces, which act with complete impunity” and “condoned by state authorities at the highest level.” [37] Reports abound of “confessions” being obtained under torture. [38]

The judiciary lacks independence. In 2005, one of the lawyers representing those accused of organizing a coup reported that while the defendants were being tortured, and their families and lawyers threatened and arrested, the judges sitting on the case were “standing to attention,” at the executive’s disposal. One of these judges refused to consider allegations of torture. [39] According to a 2009 report published by the International Federation of Human Rights, there are no independent judges in Mauritania, and the number of politically motivated cases keeps growing. [40] The President of the National Bar Association spoke out against this problem in March 2010, denouncing the unacceptable grip of the executive on the judiciary, and expressing concern about the increase of arbitrariness in the Mauritanian judicial system. [41]

In addition, there are concerns about the judiciary’s competence and about a shortage of judges. Shortcomings in judges’ training “can result in a sometimes limited knowledge of procedural rules.” [42] A shortage of judges is another problem plaguing the effectiveness of the Mauritanian legal system. A 2007 report revealed that there were 173 judges in the country. [43] In 2006, the Minister for Justice deplored that some 20 courts had no judges. [44]

Returning from its last mission to Mauritania in 2008, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention summarized the situation as follows: “while the Government has undertaken far-reaching judicial reform with very positive results, the legacy of the authoritarian system is still making itself felt. The delegation points to certain shortcomings in the legislation, but above all emphasizes the gap between the legal instruments currently in force and actual practice. During its visit, the cases of arbitrary detention that were observed stemmed mainly from dysfunctions in the administration of justice, as reflected in a failure to respect the time limit for police custody, violations of the right to a fair trial - in particular restricted access to counsel - ineffective judicial oversight of the police and gendarmerie, corruption and inconsistent interpretations of sharia.” [45]

References

[1] Amnesty Intl., Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[2] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania: The Human Rights Council cannot ignore the systematic use of torture, AFR38/003/2010, Nov. 3, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania: The Human Rights Council cannot ignore the systematic use of torture, AFR38/003/2010, Nov. 3, 2010.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, p. 23, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, p. 23, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, Ninth session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, November-December 2010, p. 5, AFR 38/001/2010, Apr. 12, 2010.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, p. 25, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.
[9] La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, Mauritanie : sept condamnations a mort prononcees en un seul jour, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=4431, Jun. 23, 2010.
[10] La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, Mauritanie : sept condamnations a mort prononcees en un seul jour, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=4431, Jun. 23, 2010.
[11] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 20, para. 81, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[12] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 18, para. 72, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[13] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance - Follow-Up To And Implementation Of The Durban Declaration And Programme Of Action, Report by Mr. Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary formsof racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/36/Add.2, Mar. 16, 2009.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance - Follow-Up To And Implementation Of The Durban Declaration And Programme Of Action, Report by Mr. Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary formsof racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 14, para. 50, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/36/Add.2, Mar. 16, 2009. See also, on the same topic, Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[15] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 209, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[16] Code of Penal Procedure of Mauritania, art. 257, Ordinance amending ordinance n° 83-163 dated Jul. 9, 1983 implementing a Code of Penal Procedure, Apr. 2007.
[17] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[18] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[19] Amnesty Intl. Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011. See also U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Mauritania, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135965.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[20] L’Ordre National des Avocats de Mauritanie, Rapport du Bâtonnier sur le Justice, http://avocatmauritanie.org/francais/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:rapport-du-batonnier-mars-2010&catid=12, Mar. 13, 2010.
[21] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[22] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[23] Amnesty Intl. Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011. See also U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Mauritania, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135965.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[24] L’Ordre National des Avocats de Mauritanie, Rapport du Bâtonnier sur le Justice, http://avocatmauritanie.org/francais/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:rapport-du-batonnier-mars-2010&catid=12, Mar. 13, 2010.
[25] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[26] Law No. 95-24, repealing and replacing Ordinance No. 86- 112 dated Jul. 12, 1986implementing a National Bar Association, art. 47, Jul. 19, 1995.
[27] Law No. 95-24, repealing and replacing Ordinance No. 86- 112 dated Jul. 12, 1986implementing a National Bar Association, art. 21, Jul. 19, 1995.
[28] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 16, para. 61, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[29] Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, Les juges sont soumis au pouvoir politique - Entretien avec Maitre Mohameden OuldIchidou, http://www.abolition.fr/ecpm/french/article.php?art=143, Jan. 21, 2005.
[30] L’ordre National des Avocats de Mauritanie, http://avocatmauritanie.org/francais/, Jan. 14, 2009.
[31] Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.Penal Code of Mauritania, Ordinance No. 83-162, Jul. 9, 1983.
[32] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Art.5, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended through Jun. 25, 2006.
[33] Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Preamble, Ordinance No. 91.022, Jul. 20, 1991, as amended through Jun. 25, 2006.
[34] Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[35] Amnesty Intl. Mauritania: The Human Rights Council cannot ignore thesystematic use of torture, AFR38/003/2010, Nov. 3, 2010.
[36] Amnesty Intl. Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, p. 10, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.
[37] Amnesty Intl. Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, p. 5, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.
[38] Amnesty Intl. Amnesty International’s death penalty statistics 2008 – Case Studies, ACT 50/006/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Amnesty Intl. Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Report 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/mauritania/report-2009, last accessed Mar. 23, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Mauritania Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, Ninth session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, November-December 2010, pp. 3, 4, 7, AFR 38/001/2010, Apr. 12, 2010.
[39] Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, Les juges sont soumis au pouvoir politique - Entretien avec Maitre Mohameden OuldIchidou, http://www.abolition.fr/ecpm/french/article.php?art=143, Jan. 21, 2005.
[40] FIDH, Note sur la situation des droits de l’Homme en Mauritanie, p. 4, http://www.fidh.org/Note-sur-la-situation-des-droits-de-l-Homme-en, May 30, 2009.
[41] L’Ordre National des Avocats de Mauritanie, Rapport du Bâtonnier sur le Justice, http://avocatmauritanie.org/francais/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:rapport-du-batonnier-mars-2010&catid=12, Mar. 13, 2010.
[42] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 18, para. 73, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[43] Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[44] Serge Zelezeck Nguimatsa, Researching the Legal System and Laws of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.com/globalex/Mauritania.htm, Aug. 2009.
[45] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Mauritania should have submitted its national report under the ICCPR in February 2006, but had not yet done so by late March 2011. [1]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

In November 2008, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern about the following facts following its mission to Mauritania:

- shortcomings, in particular related to the interpretation of sharia rules in the Criminal Code and the new Code of Criminal Procedure; [2]
- the gap between practice and the laws in force; [3]
- the ineffectiveness of the prosecutor’s oversight of police activity in general, and police custody in particular; [4]
- the difficulties related to access to counsel and legal aid; [5]
- the overall perception that it is first and foremost the members of certain population groups who are affected by detention, and that other people, who are protected by their families or their ethnic groups, are able to avoid it. [6]

Universal Periodic Review

Mauritania’s last review by the U.N. Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review took place in November 2010. During its review, Mauritania emphasized that no executions had been carried out for 23 years. However, Mauritania declined to characterize the situation as a moratorium, stating instead that it would “examine” a moratorium option, consider “possible alternatives”, and reach conclusions “in accordance with the country’s penal policy”. [7] The Mauritanian delegation also announced that “death penalty sentences were commuted”, [8] but we found no reports confirming this assertion. Mauritania also rejected France’s recommendation that it immediately repeal the criminal provisions that punish homosexuality with death. [9]

At the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council, in March 2011, Mauritania rejected the recommendations to abolish the death penalty that emerged from its Universal Periodic Review. [10] It “reaffirmed its de facto abolitionist position”, [11] but refrained once again from employing the term moratorium.

References

[1] U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mauritania, reporting status, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/NewhvVAllSPRByCountry?OpenView&Start=1&Count=250&Expand=110.2#110.2, last accessed Mar. 30, 2011.
[2] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 21, para. 85, U.N. Doc.A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 21, para. 86, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 21, para. 87, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 21, para. 87, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[6] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, p. 21, para. 88, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.
[7] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, p. 8, para. 47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[8] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, p. 8, para. 47, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[9] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Mauritania, p. 21, para. 93.3, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/17, Jan. 4, 2011.
[10] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Human Rights Council on its 16th session: Vice-President and Rapporteur: Ms. Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway), p. 88, para. 544, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/L.41, Mar. 25, 2011.
[11] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Human Rights Council on its 16th session: Vice-President and Rapporteur: Ms. Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway), p. 88, para. 544, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/L.41, Mar. 25, 2011.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Coalition mauritanienne contre la peine de mort (Mauritanian Coalition Against Death Penalty)
Mr. El Hacene Mahmoud Mbareck
President
Avenue Boutique Djimbo, Secteur 1, lot No 256, Dar -Naim
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Tel: + 222 245 60 82
Fax: + 222 500 35 87
abdah67@yahoo.fr

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

Amnesty Intl., Mauritania Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, Ninth session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, November-December 2010, AFR 38/001/2010, Apr. 12, 2010.

Amnesty Intl., Mauritania, Torture at the heart of the state, AFR 38/0092008, Dec. 3, 2008.

Reports published by Alkarama:http://en.alkarama.org/

U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum, Mission To Mauritania, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/21/Add.2, Nov. 21, 2008.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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