HRW Urges Mauritanian Authorities to Release Opposition Leader Detained on ‘Vague’ Charges

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Mauritanian authorities to free former Senate member and opposition leader Mohamed Ould Ghadda, who has been detained for two months on “vague corruption charges”.

In a statement, HRW urged Mauritania to set free the opposition leader or grant him “a prompt and fair trial, if they have sufficient evidence to try him for a recognizable criminal offense.”

“The longer Mohamed Ould Ghadda is held without the court clarifying the charges against him, the more this case appears to be about silencing opposition to the president rather than about delivering justice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

HRW deplored the lack of guarantees of fair trial for Ghadda and expressed concern over the international warrant issued by a Mauritanian prosecutor on September 1 against Bouamatou and one of his business associates, Mohamed Ould Debbagh, who are both currently exiled in Morocco.

Mauritania’s penal code requires releasing anyone arrested from police custody within 48 hours, and in cases brought under the Law to Combat Corruption, 48 hours renewable for the same period of time up to three times with the prosecutor general’s written authorization.

Ould Ghadda was arrested on August 10, 2017 following his outspoken stands against the referendum to dissolve the country’s Senate, which the opposition characterized as a move by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to consolidate power and possibly prepare constitutional changes that would permit him to serve beyond his current, second term in office.

 

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