Over the last four years, blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir has become a symbol of the Mauritanian government’s repression against freedom of expression. He is in jail as a result of his brave determination to defend victims of discrimination and slavery in his country.
Mohamed Mkhaïtir, a 35-year-old blogger, was arrested on 5 January 2014 after he published a blog in December 2013 criticising those who use religion to discriminate minorities. He was charged with apostasy and insulting the prophet. He did not have a lawyer present at the time of his interrogation.
One year later, in January 2015, the court convicted Mkhaïtir of apostasy and sentenced him to death. The prison detained him in complete isolation for more than two years until his appeal.
After several back and forth between the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court, the Appeal Court eventually quashed his death sentence on 9 November 2017 and sentenced him to two years in prison. Having already spent more than three years in detention, he was scheduled to be released shortly after.
However, to this day, the authorities still detain him in an undisclosed location. As Mauritania’s Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Action of Mauritania Cheikh Tourad Ould Abdel Malick stated in May 2018, he is “under administrative detention for his own safety”. Mkhaïtir’s health condition is critically deteriorating every day and requires medical assistance.
Mauritanian authorities should end the arbitrary detention and guarantee the safety of the blogger, Mohamed Mkhaïtir.
Help us put global pressure on Mauritanian President Mohamed Abdel Aziz.
Urge him to:
– Release the blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir and ensure his safety.
– Allow him full access to family members, his lawyer and medical treatment.
Unfortunately, Mkhaïtir is only one of many activists who have been jailed in Mauritania for speaking against slavery and discrimination. Amnesty international has documented over 168 cases of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders since 2014.