The arrest of the former spy chef of the Libyan dictator Col Muammar Qaddafi got Mauritania in focus. While, the country received appraisal for Gaddafi’s spy chef arrest, media and a U.S. Ambassador have slashed at it for its slavery practices.
In West Africa lays the country of Mauritania. Perhaps for many the name would be associated with a poor, distressed third world country of Africa. The truth is further from just that. Mauritania is at the moment the only country in the world that still has slavery as an everyday truth. In 2007, Mauritania has made the first steps to finally punish slavery as a crime. But, in a country where slavery has been a constant truth, only five years and just one actual sentence over slavery charges weren’t enough to sink in the new law.
State information agency of Mauritania announced that Abdullah al-Senoussi, the former spy chef of the Libyan dictator Col Muammar Qaddafi, has been arrested at an airport, trying to enter the country using a fake passport. Abdullah al-Senoussi entered the country with a flight coming from Casablanca, Morocco.
Although the arrest wasn’t exactly confirmed, as Mohammed al-Hareiz, spokesman for the Libyan National Transitional Council, said, the government has requested al-Senoussi to be extradited. Justice Minister Ali Hmeida Ashur said that Libyan courts will allow al-Senoussi the right to a fair trial.
The International Criminal Court has al-Senoussi on its most wanted list over charges of crimes against humanity. International justice director Richard Dicker believes Libya can’t “provide a fair trial for Senussi. For justice, and for Libyans to understand the tragedies of their past, Mauritania should hand him to the ICC”.
Meanwhile, a CNN report draws attention on Mauritania’s slavery policies. A recent interview with the U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania, Jo Ellen Powell, shows that slavery continues to be widely practiced within the country.
The U.S. Ambassador explained that the main difficulty is that in Mauritania slavery “is deeply engrained in the culture” and “it is part of the tribal relationship”. The plan is to try and “change how society views this abysmal business and not let people think that they are helping someone by keeping them in a situation of uncompensated servitude”.