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Slavery in Mauritania is an entrenched phenomenon the national government has repeatedly tried to abolish, banning the practice in 1905, 1981, and August 2007.[1][2] The descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery now live in Mauritania as "black Moors" or haratin and partially still serve the "white Moors", or bidhan, as slaves.

The number of slaves in the country was not known exactly, but is was estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population [3][4] of 3,069,000 people. Kevin Bales believes that the percentage of slaves was the highest in the world.

Mauritanian organizations like El Hor (translated as "free man") and SOS Esclaves (meaning "SOS Slaves" in French) work against slavery.

A United Nations mission, headed by UN Special Rapporteur and mission leader Gulnara Shahinian, was in Mauritania in November 2009 to evaluate slavery practices in the country.[5] The mission's findings will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2010.


  1. ^ BBC NEWS | Africa | Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law
  2. ^ Terence Corrigan (2007). [Mauritania: Country Made Slavery Illegal Last Month "Mauritania: Country Made Slavery Illegal Last Month"] (HTMl). The East African Standard via allAfrica. Mauritania: Country Made Slavery Illegal Last Month. Retrieved 2008-01-21.  
  3. ^ Millions 'forced into slavery' by BBC News
  4. ^ The Abolition season on BBC World Service
  5. ^ ANI and Journal Tahalil reported on Monday (November 2nd)

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