Democracy and rights
In Mauritania, the democratic deficiencies
are great. Politics is dominated by a single
power-bearing party and the military has great political
influence. Violations of human rights are common,
Mauritania has a long history of dictatorship. Since
independence in 1960, the country has usually been ruled
by military regimes. The current president, Mohammed
Ould Abdelaziz, also took power in a military coup in
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Mauritania, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
According to the constitution, multi-party systems
should prevail, but politics is largely dominated by the
regime's power party Union for the Republic (UPR). Most
opposition parties chose to boycott the parliamentary
elections in 2013 and the presidential elections in
2014, as they saw no preconditions for a free and fair
election (in the 2018 parliamentary elections, however,
the opposition voted). Accusations of widespread
electoral fraud have occurred and elections have been
There are several violent Islamist groups in the
country, including the regional al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb (Aqim). Since 2005, Islamic attacks against
military posts, embassies and tourists have become
increasingly common, weakening democracy. The military's
continued influence over politics also means a
Violations of political rights are common. Slavery
opponents, regime critics and human rights activists are
exposed to threats, violence and harassment mainly from
the security service. They risk prosecution for
exercising the right to participate in peaceful
demonstrations. Freedom of assembly and association is
restricted by the authorities. Foreign human rights
activists are not allowed to enter the country.
One fifth of the people who are eligible for election
in national and municipal elections must be women. In
the National Assembly, one of four members is a woman.
Politics is largely dominated by the peoples group,
while the haratins are underrepresented (see Population
Transparency International places Mauritania among
the fourth most corrupt countries in the world. In its
index of corruption in 180 countries, Mauritania in 2019
was ranked 137th (see full list here). It was still
seven investments better than the year before.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and expression is guaranteed in
the Mauritanian constitution, but since 2014 media
freedom has decreased dramatically in the country,
according to Reporters Without Borders. In November
2017, a new law was introduced which means that the
death penalty can be punished for blasphemy and apostasy
(to fall away from the right faith). Already in January
2014, a blogger was sentenced to death for apostasy.
After many legal trips, his sentence was converted to
two years in prison.
Reporters Without Borders placed Mauritania as 97th
country out of 180 in its Index of Press Freedom in the
World 2020 (see full list here). There was a sharp
decline with 25 investments compared to 2018 and a total
of 49 investments worse than 2016.
Media workers are largely devoted to self-censorship
in order to avoid harassment by the authorities.
Newspapers risk being shut down if the authorities find
that they have defamed Islam or threatened the state.
Other sensitive topics concern the military, the
widespread corruption and slavery, which is widespread
despite being formally banned (see Population and
Languages). Foreign journalists are also prevented from
reporting on slavery. In March 2018, a foreign
journalist was expelled who examined slavery. The same
thing had happened the year before.
The authorities also make use of financial pressure
to quell malicious media. In October 2017, the
authorities closed five privately owned TV and radio
stations, which, according to the tax authorities, were
lagging behind with the tax payments.
Prior to 2014, Mauritanian media experienced a period
of thawing weather. In 2006, the right to source
protection was introduced into the law and newspapers
were given the right to publish without prior
censorship. In the same year, a new independent audit
authority was established. In 2011, both prison
sentences for slander and the state monopoly on etheric
media were abolished.
The Internet is not directly controlled by the state,
but bloggers are exposed to threats, violence and
harassment mainly from the security service. Only a
limited proportion of the population has access to the
Judicial system and legal security
The legal system is based on French tradition, but
Islamic Sharia law is applied in, among other things,
civil family law. The courts are politically controlled
even though measures have been taken to increase the
independence of the judiciary vis-à-vis the holders of
power. In lower courts there is a large shortage of
educated judges and lawyers, which reduces the legal
security of citizens.
Slavery has been formally prohibited since 1981, but
in reality it exists to a large extent. In 2015, the
legislation was further tightened, including a broader
definition of slavery and longer sentences. Few
judgments have been sentenced, but in March 2018, three
people between 10 and 20 years were sentenced to prison
for slavery, something that the slavery opponents saw as
an important breakthrough.
Regime critics, suspected terrorists and other
persons can be arbitrarily taken into police
interrogation and detained for a long time without
prosecution being brought. Trials can go out in time.
Abuse and torture in detention and prisons are common.
The prisons are overcrowded, the hygiene poor and the
prisoners getting too little nutrition. The death
penalty is sentenced but, according to Amnesty
International, has not been enforced in the last decade.