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PRISON SENTENCES FOR MAURITANIAN ANTI-SLAVERY ACTIVISTS A ‘DEVASTATING BLOW’ FOR THE MOVEMENT

Mauritania

In Mauritania, despite the government reporting otherwise, slavery still exists. Haratine people – a group known to be the descendants of slaves – even if no longer in slavery, face widespread discrimination.

Anti-Slavery International said today that imprisoning anti-slavery activists is a ‘devastating blow’ for the Mauritanian human rights movement, and exposes the Government’s pledges to address slavery as a farce.

Thirteen leading anti-slavery activists from the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison yesterday. They were charged after a protest in late June in an impoverished neighbourhood against the forced relocation of the community in preparation for the Arab League Summit. However, none of the thirteen activists, nor IRA, had organised the protest or taken part in it.

Sarah Mathewson, Africa Programme Manager at Anti-Slavery International, said:

“The sentences are a devastating blow to the Mauritanian anti-slavery movement. They are clearly being targeted by the Government for their work to expose and denounce slavery, still commonplace in the country.

“The charges are highly politically motivated and expose the Government’s pledges to address slavery as a farce.

“It is outrageous that anti-slavery activists are targeted and prosecuted for their work, while slave-owners perpetrate crimes with impunity.

“The international community must join together to call for the unconditional release of the activists and dropping all the charges.”

Background:

Mauritania is one of the last countries where people are still born into slavery and literally owned by their masters, facing a lifetime of abuse and forced labour. They can be bought and sold, given as gifts and are at complete mercy of their masters. Women are commonly raped and forced to bear their masters’ children, who in turn also become their slaves. Haratine people –a group known to be the descendants of slaves – even if no longer in slavery, face widespread discrimination.

Mauritania has long been under national and international pressure to enforce the law, but most anti-slavery initiatives so far have proved to be empty promises.

Although last year’s new anti-slavery law offered some hope, the Government continues to target anti-slavery activists and even refuses to acknowledge the existence of slavery in the country.

To date Anti-Slavery International and its national partners achieved the only two prosecutions for slavery in the country’s history, but the slave-owners received very lenient sentences. At least 30 other cases have remained pending for years in courts or prosecutors’ offices.

Note to Editors:
For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Anti-Slavery International Press and Digital Media Manager Jakub Sobik on 07789 936 383 or at j.sobik@antislavery.org.

source:Anti-Slavery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zero-hours contracts: 801,000 workers on zero-hours terms

Worker

The number of workers on a zero-hours contract for their main job stood at 801,000 in late 2015, up by 104,000 from a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

That meant 2.5% of the employed UK workforce was on such a contract.

ONS statistician Nick Palmer said some of this rise could reflect greater recognition of “zero-hours” contracts.

However, he added: “There’s also nothing to suggest this form of employment is in decline.”

In its report, the ONS said there were about 1.7 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours in November, meaning that many workers had more than one zero-hours contract.

The previous estimate, for May 2015, was 2.1 million, but the ONS said that the estimates could be affected by seasonal factors and should not be directly compared.

Those on zero-hours contracts were more likely to be young people, part-time workers, women, or those in full-time education when compared with other people in employment.

Someone on a zero-hours contract worked an average of 26 hours a week. About a third of those on a zero-hours contract wanted to work longer, with most wanting more hours in their current job, as opposed to a different job that offered more hours.

In comparison, only 10% of other people in other types of employment wanted more hours, the ONS said.

The TUC condemned the rise in zero-hours contracts as “a nightmare for workers”.

TUC research found that average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers were £188, compared with £479 for permanent employees.

source:BBC NEWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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