The criminal justice system in Mauritania is a capable and effective partner of the United States but is vastly under-resourced, poorly coordinated both domestically and regionally, and has a weak institutional foundation. As a result, the criminal justice system is reactive rather than proactive. It suffers from high pretrial detention rates, vulnerability to abuse of power, and general distrust from the population. The Government of Mauritania has a strong interest in improving the effectiveness and accountability of its criminal justice sector and it is eager to play a regional role, working with and supporting its neighbors through the G5 Sahel organization created in 2014.
A more capable, transparent, and responsive justice system and enhanced citizen trust will prove heavy counterweights to violent extremism. In particular, there is an opportunity to help Mauritania’s Prison Administration improve basic security practices, develop an inmate classification system, and create a specialized professional corrections staff. Improvements in the prison system should be complemented by assistance to develop and implement arrest and detention procedures that reduce the population of pretrial prisoners. A professional and accountable prison system in Mauritania will help counter violent extremism by enhancing the rule of law and government legitimacy and reducing the potential for radicalization among the prison population.
The goal of INL’s engagement in Mauritania is to build the capability of the Government of Mauritania to counter violent extremism though improvements in the criminal justice system. Programs will enhance the Government of Mauritania’s capability to operate and manage its corrections institutions and justice sector in a professional and accountable manner in conformity with international standards and norms. INL will help Mauritania more effectively coordinate and adjudicate cases, improve the management of pre-trial detention, provide safe, secure, and humane incarceration of prisoners, including terrorism suspects, and pursue key institutional reforms including prisoner classification, security, and developing specialized prison staff.
As of October 2016, programs are in development.