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Mauritania

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. The government generally respected these rights, but there were exceptions.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, vulnerable migrants, or other persons of concern. Resources provided by the government were inadequate to meet the assistance needs of these populations.

In-country Movement: Persons lacking identity cards could not travel freely in some regions. As in previous years, the government set up mobile roadblocks where gendarmes, police, or customs officials checked the papers of travelers.

Exile: The law does not provide for forced exile. Nevertheless, several prominent opponents of the president have remained in self-imposed exile for years for fear of persecution or retaliation.

Ewlad Blad, a popular rap group, representing the country’s three largest ethnic groups (Moor/Beydane, Moor/Haratine, and Sub-Saharan/Halpulaar), remained in self-imposed exile in Senegal for fear of prosecution. Their lyrics revolve around social justice, inequality, rising food prices, high levels of corruption, nepotism, and what the group describes as the authoritarian manner of the president at the root of the country’s increasing social tensions.

Emigration and Repatriation: Launched in 2013, the National Agency for the Fight against the Vestiges of Slavery, Reintegration, and the Fight against Poverty (Tadamoun) is responsible for overseeing the reintegration of repatriated refugees and providing administration and identification support, as well as for contributing to the social and economic development of resettlement areas. Despite challenges–including food insecurity, land disputes, and inadequate sanitation, health, education, and infrastructure–the government made modest progress in reintegrating repatriated refugees.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The law provides for granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. UNHCR carries out refugee status determinations under its mandate and then presents cases to the National Consultative Commission for Refugees for recognition.

In accordance with agreements with the Economic Community of West African States on freedom of movement, the government allows West Africans to remain in the country for up to three months, after which they must apply for residency or work permits. Migrants determined to be illegally seeking to reach Spain’s nearby Canary Islands were deported.

STATELESS PERSONS

The law allows children born outside the country to Mauritanian mothers and foreign men to obtain Mauritanian nationality at age 17. According to article 15 of the Mauritanian Code of Nationality, as amended, children born to Mauritanian fathers and foreign mothers are automatically Mauritanian. If the father is stateless, children born outside the country are subject to statelessness until age 17, at which point the child is eligible for nationality. The unwillingness of local authorities to process thousands of sub-Saharan Africans who returned from Senegal, following their mass expulsion between 1989 and 1991, rendered the returnees stateless.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future