The government maintained efforts to prevent human trafficking. The Commissariat, under the direction of the prime minister’s office, coordinated the human rights inter-ministerial committee, which was responsible for implementing the government’s anti-trafficking NAP and met twice. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice, Commissariat, and an international organization created a sub-committee to coordinate anti- slavery efforts in collaboration with the human rights inter-ministerial committee. The government allocated 10 million MRU ($270,270) to implement the NAP, a significant increase from 5.4 million MRU ($145,950) allocated the previous year. In March 2022, the government adopted the implementing decree establishing the Instance Nationale, a designated committee charged with coordinating the government’s nation-wide anti-trafficking response, as called for in the 2020 anti- trafficking law.
The government, in collaboration with civil society, held awareness campaigns and workshops to engage local and civil society leaders and increase public awareness of the anti-slavery and trafficking laws, particularly among vulnerable communities. In March 2022, the government co-chaired a sub-regional symposium on slavery. The symposium marked the first of its kind to take place in Mauritania and included civil society actors from Europe, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, and the United States. The Agency for National Solidarity and the Fight Against Exclusion (Taazour) provided substantial socioeconomic support to vulnerable populations, including communities traditionally subjected to hereditary slavery. The government made some efforts to combat child forced begging, including conducting visits to some mahadras (Quranic schools) and working with religious leaders to raise awareness of child protection issues. The government provided financial support to an NGO hotline for victims of crime, including trafficking; the hotline assisted 336 victims of sexual violence, including some potential trafficking victims. Despite efforts to raise awareness, some local officials reportedly denied the existence of slavery, and some high-level officials claimed NGOs and anti-slavery activists fabricated or overstated the number of cases.
The government adopted the NGO Law implementing decree, allowing all NGOs, including anti-slavery NGOs, to legally operate in the country following a simplified registration process. In December 2021, several NGOs, including anti-slavery NGOs, registered and began operations. Some critics reported the law contained administrative barriers that may have been burdensome to smaller NGOs and permitted the government to suspend NGOs engaged in activities that “threaten the country’s morals.” There were no reports the government prevented anti-slavery activists from operating in Mauritania; however, authorities allegedly harassed and detained some activists. Observers claimed officials retaliated against an NGO worker after the organization criticized the government’s handling of a slavery-related investigation. Authorities also detained four individuals—including NGO activists, a survivor of slavery, and a journalist—while they were investigating an alleged slavery case. 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.
Under a 2003 agreement with Spain, Mauritania received deported migrants, including its citizens and third-country nationals presumed to have transited Mauritania en route to Spain. According to international organizations, the government processed and transported these migrants to the Senegal and Mali borders, within hours of arriving in Nouadhibou, without systematically screening for trafficking or allowing international organizations to offer protective services. Authorities were, however, reportedly responsive to international organization requests for screening when civil society actors identified potential trafficking victims among the migrants. NGOs and media reports alleged officials detained some migrants without due process, placed unaccompanied children in detention with adults, abused migrants during arrest and detention, and failed to provide access to adequate facilities, including food and sanitation.
The Ministry of Labor hired 15 new labor inspectors and provided some training on child trafficking and child labor. However, the government lacked the capacity to regulate the large informal sector, where most cases of forced labor occurred. Despite reports of labor abuses, including potential indicators of trafficking, the government rarely inspected fishing vessels, processing plants, and boat factories. The government did not effectively regulate foreign labor recruiters or penalize them for fraudulent recruitment. Although the law prohibited worker-paid recruitment fees, the government’s limited capacity hindered its ability to enforce this provision. The government continued working with an international organization to study the scope of forced labor in Mauritania. In 2021, the government lifted identity documentation requirements for secondary school that had previously restricted access to education, especially among communities traditionally exploited in hereditary slavery. In partnership with an international organization, officials continued to issue identification cards to Malian refugees—as well as birth certificates to Malian refugee children born in Mauritania—in Mbera camp. The government signed a memorandum of understanding with an international organization to formalize the organization’s role in facilitating and accelerating issuance of refugee documentation in urban areas. The government collaborated with the same organization to register vulnerable refugees in its national social protection program. The government provided peacekeepers with pre-deployment briefings on human rights, including trafficking, prior to their deployment. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, there were six open cases of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Mauritanian peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR.