[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

MAURITANIA (Tier 2) Extracted in part  from the U.S. State Dept 2023 TIP Report

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Mauritania was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included increasing investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers, including six traffickers convicted in absentia under the 2015 anti-slavery law. The government reported identifying trafficking victims for the first time in five years. It finalized an NRM and created a dedicated fund for victim services. The government established and funded the Instance National to Combat Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling (INCHTMS), a permanent coordinating committee for anti-trafficking efforts, and conducted significant awareness campaigns on the anti-trafficking and anti-slavery laws throughout the country. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not systematically investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers responsible for hereditary slavery crimes, and the anti-slavery courts did not function effectively. Officials did not adequately screen vulnerable populations, including communities historically exploited in hereditary slavery, for trafficking indicators. Government agencies charged with combating trafficking, including hereditary slavery, continued to lack resources and personnel, and reports of officials refusing to investigate or prosecute traffickers persisted.

Prioritized Recommendations

Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking, including hereditary slavery, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms.

Direct law enforcement to investigate all allegations of human trafficking, including hereditary slavery, and hold government officials accountable for inhibiting investigations of such cases or interfering in ongoing investigations.

Train front-line actors, including law enforcement, security forces, judicial officials, social workers, independent labor unions, and civil society on the NRM and standard procedures to identify and refer trafficking victims to care.

Proactively screen for trafficking indicators among vulnerable populations, including communities historically exploited in hereditary slavery, migrants, women in commercial sex, and children exploited in forced begging; ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.

Utilize the victim fund, and in collaboration with NGOs, increase trafficking victims’ access to resources and services.

Institutionalize training for law enforcement and judicial actors – including prosecutors, investigative magistrates, and appeals court judges – on the 2015 anti-slavery and 2020 anti-trafficking laws, legally-required procedures for transferring hereditary slavery cases to the anti-slavery courts, and ordering restitution in criminal cases.

Provide adequate resources and dedicated prosecutors, investigating magistrates, and trial judges for each of the anti-slavery courts.

Empower the INCHTMS to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking response by convening regular meetings, adopting a new NAP, and promoting information sharing and data collection across government agencies.

Implement a victim-witness assistance program to increase protective services for victims participating in the criminal justice process, including protection from intimidation or retaliation.