The government increased efforts to prevent human trafficking. In November 2020, the government created a human rights inter-ministerial committee responsible for implementing the national action plan (NAP) to combat trafficking in persons. The prime minister’s office coordinated the inter-ministerial committee, comprised of the Commissariat, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, MASEF, Ministry of Public Function, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the committee met once during the reporting period. The government allocated 5.4 million MRU ($145,950) to implement the NAP, although officials acknowledged this amount was inadequate for full implementation. The government increased awareness-raising efforts during the reporting period. It organized, in collaboration with an NGO, a series of workshops to sensitize government authorities, local and international NGOs, and citizens in Nema and surrounding villages on the new anti-trafficking law. The National Commission for Human Rights led an awareness campaign through the eastern region of the country to sensitize the public on the new anti-trafficking law; the commission also conducted awareness campaigns to promote the anti-trafficking law and NAP targeting administrative, security, and judicial officials in Nouakchott, Zouerat, Atar, Rosso, Kaedi, and Selibaby. Through a grant program that provided more than 10 million MRU ($270,270) to NGOs, including organizations combating human trafficking, the government supported an NGO conducting workshops on the new anti-trafficking law targeting civil society, law enforcement, and government officials.
During the reporting period, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Original Education granted 1.2 million MRU ($32,430) to 995 mahadras (Quranic schools) in the Trarza region, supporting 34,640 students; the government conducted quarterly visits to some, but not all, mahadras that received assistance to verify they met certain standards, including not subjecting students to forced begging. The ministry continued implementing a program, which began in 2016, to modernize mahadras in poor areas to reduce students’ vulnerability to forced begging by creating and financially supporting 150 new mahadras, creating four new regional institutes in Bourat, Boghé, Sélibabi and Kiffa, and providing scholarships to students. The ministry partnered with imams to provide literacy classes that addressed child rights issues, including child labor and child trafficking, for over 3,000 people. In previous reporting periods, the Agency for National Solidarity and the Fight against Exclusion (Taazour) provided education, economic opportunity, and health services to vulnerable communities, including communities traditionally subjected to hereditary slavery. The government allocated 4 billion MRU ($108.1 million) over five years to Taazour in fiscal year 2020. Taazour provided direct cash assistance to more than 200,000 impoverished families in the largest cash transfer program in Mauritania’s history during the reporting period. The Ministry of Youth launched a job creation program targeting vulnerable young people, largely from communities affected by hereditary slavery. For the second consecutive year, there were no reports the government harassed or prevented anti-slavery activists from operating in Mauritania during the reporting period. In February 2021, the government enacted the Law on Associations (“NGO Law”), allowing all NGOs, including anti-slavery NGOs, to legally operate in the country following a simplified registration process. Some critics reported the law contained administrative barriers that may burden smaller NGOs and permitted the government to retain the authority to suspend NGOs engaged in activities that threaten the country’s morals. During the reporting period, the government provided financial support to an NGO to create a hotline for victims of crime, including trafficking; the hotline received over 6,300 calls, with operators speaking four local languages and French. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts by arresting and convicting buyers of commercial sex; however, officials also arrested potential trafficking victims during these operations.
The Ministry of Labor trained 15 labor inspectors to monitor the labor market for violations, including child trafficking. However, the government struggled to regulate the large informal sector; it did not implement efforts to prevent abuse and screen for trafficking in this sector. Despite reports of labor abuses, including potential indicators of trafficking, the government rarely inspected fishing vessels, processing plants, and boat factories. In 2017, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to increase protections for prospective domestic workers; according to NGOs, the government did not report on the effectiveness of the agreement to prevent trafficking. The government continued working with an international organization to study the scope of forced labor in Mauritania; the government did not release the report during the reporting period. The government continued partnering with an international organization to issue identification cards to Malian refugees—as well as birth certificates to Malian refugee children born in Mauritania— in Mbera camp to reduce vulnerability to trafficking. An international organization reported some hospitals refused migrants birth registrations; as a result, the government cooperated with the international organization to raise awareness and combat misconceptions related to birth registrations among hospital personnel. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel; however, all Mauritanian diplomats received internal anti-trafficking policy guidelines prior to their departure. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its troops prior to their deployment as peacekeepers; however, troops received pre-deployment briefings on human rights. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, there were five open cases of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Mauritanian peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR.