(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Government denies arresting human rights defender

Mauritania human rights activist Mohamed Ould Maloum has neither been placed under house arrest nor otherwise detained, AFP quoted Communications Minister Rachid Ould Saleh yesterday as saying in Nouakchott.

The Paris based SOS-racisme, AFP reported, had accused the government of placing Maloum under house arrest in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, and of seizing his passport. Maloum, who lives in France, heads the Mauritanian chapter of SOS-racisme. “These accusations are baseless and nobody has neither been questioned nor arrested in Mauritania,” AFP quoted Saleh as saying.

However, another Mauritanian human rights defender told IRIN today that Maloum’s passport was seized. The activist described the measure as a government tactic “to try and scare” Maloum and stop him from meeting people. He said Maloum had joined demonstrators at the France-Africa summit in November in Paris, calling for the arrest and trial of Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya for crimes against humanity, a factor which could explain the government’s action.

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