HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONSIDERS REPORT OF MAURITANIA
22 October 2013
The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its consideration of the initial report of Mauritania on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Presenting the report, Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Khattra, Human Rights Commissioner for Humanitarian Action and Relations with Civil Society, said that in 2007 slavery was criminalized as a crime against humanity. He spoke about Mauritania’s efforts to uphold the rights of freedom of opinion and political expression, and to protect and promote the rights of women and children, as well as to increase women’s participation in political life. He also spoke about actions to guarantee the freedom of movement, equality in the justice system, and to ensure minority rights, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, which were guaranteed under the Constitution. He also confirmed that there was a moratorium on the execution of death penalty.
Committee Members said that according to a recent report Mauritania was the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world and asked what was being done to tackle the problem. They also asked questions about the definition of terrorism, the use of torture to extract confessions, police brutality against migrants and minorities and racial discrimination. Issues relating to gender equality and violence against women, including forms of rape, female genital mutilation and early marriages were also raised. Crimes that carried the death penalty and its moratorium were also discussed.
Mr. Ould Khattra, in concluding remarks, thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue over the country’s first report. While the Government may have shown some lack of experience, the delegation’s presence at the Committee demonstrated the good will and readiness to cooperate and improve the situation of human rights further. Mauritania had taken significant steps in promoting human rights, including conventions against torture and forced disappearances. Human rights were a matter of culture and mentality, and time was needed for them to develop and become well rooted.
In concluding remarks, Cornelis Flinterman, Committee Rapporteur, said the discussion provided a good opportunity for the Committee to understand the various obstacles which were preventing the full implementation of the Covenant in Mauritania.
The delegation of Mauritania included the Human Rights Commissioner for Humanitarian Action and Relations with Civil Society, Director of Agency “Tadamoun” for eradication of the consequences of slavery, social inclusion and fight against poverty, Director for Human Rights at the Commissariat for Human Rights, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and Family, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Decentralization, as well as the Permanent Mission of Mauritania to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee would next meet in public at 3 p.m. to being its consideration of the first report of Mozambique.
The initial report of Mauritania can be read via the link: (CCPR/C/MRT/1).
Presentation of the Report
MOHAMED ABDALLAHI OULD KHATTRA, Human Rights Commissioner for Humanitarian Action and Relations with Civil Society, said his delegation were looking forward to a constructive first dialogue with the Committee upon presentation of the first report of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which ratified the Convention in 2004. He noted that the report had been prepared with a long consultative process with public representatives.
Mauritania based its diplomatic efforts on the principle of respect of States and their sovereignty, on friendship and cooperation among nations and people, on good neighbourly relations and on support for just causes.
Regarding freedom from slavery, the Commissioner said that in the constitutional reform of 2007, and through laws adopted in that year and in 2013, slavery was criminalized as a crime against humanity and the “Tadamoun” agency for the eradication of slavery and its consequences was established. Other important measures included the application of legislation against practices of slavery and torture, ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. It had also taken part in many regional and international conferences dedicated to the liberation of peoples under colonial domination. Freedom of opinion and political expression was also guaranteed. There were 97 political parties and almost 6,000 non-governmental organizations and associations, as well as four syndicates active in the country.
Concerning the rights of women and children, Mauritania had put in place a network of women ministers and parliamentarians, established regional committees for resolution of family disputes, and created a national sectoral group for gender issues. Participation of women in political life had been reinforced through an adoption of a national list of representation in the Parliament reserved exclusively for women. Mauritania had put in place an action plan designed to promote and protect the rights of the child in line with the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, made in 2009. The freedom of movement, free choice of residence and freedom to leave the country were guaranteed by law. No foreigner could be expelled except when so decided in accordance with law. Equality of all before the courts and tribunals was ensured by the normative and institutional system in the country. Minority rights, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity were guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone had the right to use their own language, in accordance with Mauritania’s cultural policy. Different groups could access official and private radio and TV stations without discrimination.
Questions by the Experts
Regarding the implementation of the Covenant, an Expert asked whether anything was being done regarding laws which were contradictory to the Covenant, and asked about discrepancies between Sharia law and the Covenant, in particular on the issues of adoption, apostasy, and death penalty. Was Mauritania going to make efforts to stop the spread of polygamy?
The ratification of the Covenant had not yet been published in the Official Gazette, an Expert regretted, asking what difficulties or obstacles prevented Mauritania from acceding to the Optional Protocols to the Convention. He enquired whether citizens submit complaints to the Constitutional Council, and if so how that happened in practice. Could citizens question laws adopted by the Parliament? Did the National Commission for Human Rights have a presence all over the country?
Did Mauritania have an actual law on racial discrimination, and how was the Government planning to implement recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Racial Discrimination? Turning to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, an Expert asked the Government of Mauritania to reconsider decriminalizing sexual activity of consenting adults of the same sex.
Regarding women in decision-making and leadership positions, an Expert asked how many women ministers there were and how many women were in the judiciary and the police. He also asked whether unmarried adult women were still placed under guardianship.
Concerning violence against women, an Expert wondered if a survey had been done on its various forms, if there were any programmes for rehabilitation of the perpetrators of violence against women, and whether rape, including marital rape, had been criminalized. He also asked if female genital mutilation criminalized, and how many people had filed complaints about that violation?
The death penalty had been imposed a number of times in recent years, an Expert said, even if the sentence had not been implemented; a moratorium was not the same as abolishment. She asked whether the death penalty could be applied to crimes of adultery and apostasy, and for an exhaustive list of crimes that carried the death penalty. What steps were taken to ensure that every person convicted to the death penalty had proper defence in the court of law, and could children who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime be given the death penalty?
Regarding detention, an Expert said the Committee had received several reports about incommunicado detention and asked the delegation what steps were being taken to ensure proper medical care and supervision of those in detention.
Responses by the Delegation
Answering questions posed by the Committee members both in advance written form, and during the meeting, a delegate first explained that Islam was the religion of the State and the people, as confirmed by Article 5 of the Constitution, which was not subject to amendment. All non-Muslim were, nonetheless, free to practice their religion, primarily Christians, who were the largest non-Muslim group in the country. Islam was the only source of law, as stated by the Constitution, a delegate said, and that was in line with the Convention’s guarantee of freedom of religion, as other religions in Mauritania were also protected by law.
Demonstrations in Mauritania, took place on an almost daily basis. They were conducted in a peaceful way and the country was used to them. Regarding the shooting of demonstrators in 2012, which had led to the death of one of them, the delegate said that there had been no proof that he had been shot dead by the police. The investigation was still underway and its results were awaited.
Regarding Mauritania’s reservations to some provisions of the Covenant, a delegate said that those provisions were counter to Islam, which was law in Mauritania, and for the moment the Government had no intention to lift the reservations. All provisions of the Covenant could be brought before the national jurisdiction; international ratified norms had precedence over domestic law and could be invoked by lawyers or any party. The Government had a plan to all ratified legal instruments, not only the Covenant, had to be mentioned in the Official Gazette.
Regarding two Optional Protocols to the Covenant, a delegate said Mauritania had ratified all the internationally monitored instruments, such as the Convention Against Torture, and was acceding to other human rights instruments as well. Some human rights organizations had presented Mauritania with subjects to study, which it was doing.
The Commission for Human Rights was an independent national institution founded in 2010, which could carry out inspections, had financial independence and worked for human rights internationally.
Homosexuality was illegal and punishable under the criminal code of Mauritania, following a fair trial in which the accused had the right to enjoy a due process, a delegate said.
Mauritania did not have a new national plan of action to combat racial discrimination, because one was already in place, which, with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had been diffused throughout the country and had sections on racial discrimination. Awareness raising work included workshops with citizens and expats of different ethnic backgrounds. Mauritania was waiting for the report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which would be issued in June 2014, after which the Government would implement those of his recommendations which it deemed should be implemented.
Regarding gender equality, Mauritania was aiming towards the harmonization of all texts and aimed to promote the rights of women in line with international standards. Regarding the representation of women, the delegate stated that women could be found throughout Mauritania’s administration, including the Supreme Court.
There were currently four women ministers in the Government, and women at all levels in the police and in courts. Nonetheless, only six per cent of important positions were held by women at the moment. There were six women lawyers and there were also women among police force and magistrates. To promote women into decision-making roles, the Commission was also working to have more women elected to public office, and help promote women, also by bringing the country’s laws in line with international conventions. Very few women took part in State co-ed concourses, which was why a special competition for women was being held to address the misbalance.
A major campaign was in place to tackle gender-based violence and female genital mutilation. Women who were victims of violence had the right to express themselves before the court and organise themselves through civil society. Most of the violence against women was based on the poor implementation of Islam, which was why a campaign was being carried out to change the mentality of the people. The campaign was being stepped up, but it would take time to see results. Often times, women were badly treated, but verbally much more often than physically. There were no shelters for victims of violence in Mauritania, but non-governmental organizations provided counselling and support services, and ran four support centres, with help from the Government. Regarding remedies for victims of violence, a delegate said that the Covenant had never been invoked in national legislation, but victims of violence had different ways of accessing to justice, through the judiciary.
A large majority of women of all ages were estimated to have been affected by female genital mutilation. Now the Government was trying to assess the effects of its campaign against the practice. A fatwa against mutilation had helped in that respect. Any attempt to conduct female genital mutilation would lead to a double punishment – imprisonment and a fine.
Rape was criminalized and punishable, and could lead to the death penalty. The Human Rights Commission was also focused on the judicial treatment of women who were victims of violence, and was working on the adoption of a law which would incriminate all forms of gender-based violence.
Only two death sentences had been carried out in recent years, a delegate said, stating that a moratorium had been in place since 2007 and no executions had taken place since then. All persons who were convicted to the death penalty were subject to a fair trial and were ensured proper resources for their defence. Only serious crimes could lead to the death penalty. Since the moratorium, there had been 62 rulings on death penalty, 46 since the ratification of the Covenant. Terrorist activities which had led to a death of individuals were punishable by death penalty. Six death penalty sentences had been commuted or reduced, but those convicted had to apply for it first. Nobody in Mauritania could be judged for a crime if they had not benefited from the presence of a lawyer in the judicial process. That was one of the main guarantees of fair trial.
There were no enforced disappearances among those had been detained for acts of terrorism, and all detainees were alive and well, and had been visited in prison by human rights organizations, a delegate confirmed, adding that those prisoners were subject to the exactly same regime as other prisoners in Mauritania.
Improving prison conditions was a sensitive issue for a poor developing country, but significant efforts were being made with the support of partners. More new prisons had been built to relieve the overcrowding in existing prisons. Detainees had legal guarantees to lawyers and to see their families, and all persons were presumed innocent unless proved otherwise. Even though the conditions of detention had witnessed certain improvement, concern was expressed over the presence of detained minors and long judicial procedures. Greater progress was needed regarding the conditions of women and children, as well as against all types of gender violence.
The delegate said that refugees could not be expelled, as long as they fell under the law, as detailed in the report. Mauritania applied regulations from international treaties on refugees and asylum seekers, and all such persons in the country were treated in a humane way.
Slavery was prohibited, considered as a crime against humanity and vigorously punished in Mauritania. All authorities in Mauritania were committed to merciless fight against the phenomenon. The majority of the recommendations in the Roadmap presented by the Special Rapporteur had been taken on board by the Government. The “Tadamoun” agency for the eradication of slavery had been established in line with the Roadmap recommendations. Employment laws and laws pertaining to children also incorporated relevant anti-slavery provisions.
On torture, the delegate said that, for example, some terrorists had been freed in 2007 because a judge concluded that their confessions had been given under torture. Those individuals later went on to murder three French nationals. Moreover, judges were now obliged to follow up any allegations of torture. If a member of the police was found to be guilty of torture, he would be arrested himself. Specifically, the Commission had noticed that progress had been made regarding criminalizing torture and slavery in 2007. There was clear public will to eradicate the practice.
Mauritania had been making all efforts possible to protect children, through both legal codes and protective mechanisms, including ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There was an obligation to register all children at birth, and to register all marriages. Early marriage was prohibited, and public sensitization campaigns were in place.
The right to privacy was protected under the criminal code, and violations of privacy carried penalties of between two and five years of imprisonment. Guarantees existed for the freedom of expression, assembly and association, and no prisoners were tortured following the demonstrations of 2012. There was a great deal of ethnic and linguistic diversity in Mauritania, and people all enjoyed their rights.
The Covenant had been translated and publicized in Mauritania, civil society was involved in the process. There were a high number of non-governmental organizations and women’s cooperatives, a delegate said, adding that new legalisation was needed to properly support them. The Commission for Human Rights was independent and worked in accordance with the Paris Principles. It was not represented in all regions of the country for the time being; not all necessary resources were available for that to happen. Some outside sources of funding, such as from the Spanish Government, had been provided to that purpose. The representative of the National Commission of Human Rights, an independent constitutional body, said that the body was monitoring, promoting and advising on a wide variety of human rights related issues in the country. The Commission had contributed to the preparation of the initial report, and more widely recommended that the Government prioritize the implementation of recommendations issued by treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.
The Constitution provided any individual, regardless of their nationality, to appear before the Constitutional Court for a common-law trial. There had been cases when provisions of the Covenant had been invoked before judges of certain courts, such as divorce or personal status issues, and judges in such cases had applied the Covenant. The Code of Nationality was in the process of revision, with the view of bringing it into line with conventions and covenants which Mauritania had signed and ratified.
Questions by the Experts
An Expert asked if the death penalty for sexual offences was covered by the reservations of the Government, as he was aware that the State party had only expressed reservations over articles 18 and 23. Was marital rape punishable under law? Were there provisions protecting women victims of rape when reporting the crime, and did provisions exist for abortions which had resulted from rape? Why would women be afraid to go to Ministries to lodge complaints against violence and rape, and had to find a recourse in NGO centres instead?
Another Expert said it was positive that anyone, regardless of their nationality, could appeal to the Constitutional Court, but asked whether there were any practical examples of citizens using that right. Had any laws been abolished because they ran contrary to the Covenant?
What was the definition of terrorist activity? Was there national legislation defining it or was Mauritania accepting definitions provided by international conventions to which it was party? The Expert stressed that confessions under torture could not be used in the court of law, regardless of the alleged crimes committed.
An Expert asked why some of the replies provided orally had not been given in writing prior to the current session.
Responses by the Delegation
Regarding the action plan against racial discrimination, a delegate said that that was a comprehensive plan involving a wide array of actors, which had been prepared in an inclusive process. Various actors had taken place in its drafting and the plan thus reflected positions of different sectors of society.
Mauritania had placed specific reservations to the Covenant, which were article 18, which ran counter to Islam, and thus was not applicable. Article 23, which dealt with divorce and the dissolution of marriage, was also not applicable to Mauritania. The Government was studying the two Optional Protocols. There was a possibility that the country would accede to the First Protocol, while Mauritania’s position on the death penalty was clear.
Another delegate explained that the legislation did not differentiate between rape outside of marriage and marital rape. Rape was an offence punishable by law in either case. Sometimes, proof was needed, and given proof judges did not hesitate to pass necessary punishment.
A woman was prohibited to be alone with a man unless they had a legal relationship, under national legislation, a delegate said. If a woman was alone with a man, and he raped her, that was a breach of public order as the woman should not have been found to be alone with the man. Furthermore, some women only declared that they had been raped when they found out they were pregnant, which was always suspicious to judges. Thanks to awareness raising and training of those who worked in judicial services, that problem was more often resolved today than in the past.
Regarding abortion, Mauritania respected the integrity of human body. Therapeutic abortion, as prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons, existed. If a rape had taken place, social medical assistance was provided to the victims, who were offered the morning after pills, which were administered within the 72-hour period following the rape.
Crimes punishable by death penalty included voluntary homicide, castration, apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, treason, spying, burglary, terrorism or any activity which could cause a massacre. One could choose their religion freely, but if one publicly denounced Muslim faith, they could also be punished by death.
Mauritania had a serious fight against terrorism, and had legislation in place. Special forces were trained to deal with terrorism, there were penitentiaries where only terrorist convicts were placed, and specially trained judges. Terrorism was a crime which was damaging the interests of Mauritania and the international community. International norms in that respect were incorporated in Mauritania’s legislation, including those from the Arab League and the League of Islamic States. Everything pertaining to terrorism was considered to be a crime, punishable with anything between five years and death penalty.
All individuals were allowed to address the Constitutional Court over any breach of their rights, but that right was not being exercised in practice.
A delegate explained that the Government was actively engaging civil society. Shelters for victims of gender-based violence had been opened by non-governmental organizations, but with the strong support of the Government. The whole Government remained committed to the elimination of violence against women, especially young women.
Questions by the Experts
An Expert asked about the fate of those who had been convicted of having committed terrorist acts. Had there been any confessions under torture? Mauritania had solid legislation prohibiting torture as a crime against humanity, but there had been alleged cases of torture in police stations and prisons. Efforts were clearly being made, but ensuring that the existing laws were implemented remained an issue. Were there monitoring mechanisms in place? Mauritania was an Islamic state, and there were dozens of religious texts prohibiting torture, which could be used to increase awareness among law enforcement officials.
What were procedures for pre-trial detention? Did detainees have access to lawyers and could they be in touch with their families? The Committee was not disputing the quality of the State party’s legislation, but how were the protective measures applied in practice?
Another Expert raised the issue of steps taken to address police brutality against migrants and minorities. Did the State party investigate such abuses, especially those against nationals of neighbouring countries while transitioning through Mauritania.
The Expert asked about the corporal punishment of children. Which forms of corporal punishment were prohibited, in schools and in families? Did the Penal Code allow for corporal punishment, including whipping and amputation of limbs, of children?
On the issue of detention conditions in prisons, an Expert asked which measures had been taken to give prisoners the right to complain about the conditions of their detention. Prisons in Mauritania held between 2,700 and 3,000 prisoners, many of whom were in pre-trial detention. There were reports that some prisons were overcrowded, as well as reports about the Government renting apartments and using them as prisons.
The Government said that it had disseminated the Covenant widely, an Expert noted, but asked whether it had been disseminated in any minority languages other than Arabic? Had civil society organizations been involved in preparing the current report under discussions, and how did the Government choose which non-governmental organizations to involve?
Mauritania had recognized a very small number of refugees, less than 500. An Expert asked whether a refugee could be expelled and how the State party was complying with the principle of non-refoulement.
According to a recently released international slavery report, Mauritania was ranked number one, which meant it was the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world. The Expert said that slavery had existed for centuries and continued to exist in various contemporary forms. The Expert commented that it was unacceptable that slavery still existed in the twenty-first century. Only one conviction had been reported in recent years, and it was practically very difficult for slaves to bring charges against their owners. The Government had recognized that the “vestiges” of slavery existed in the country. The Expert asked what was meant by the term “vestiges”.
The Expert asked what was being done to make it easier for citizens to register newly born children. He asked about the measures taken to stop early marriages, and whether there existed any requirements for those under the age of 18 to get married.
The Expert expressed doubts that there was no racial or ethnic discrimination against minority groups, as the State party had declared in its report. What steps could the State party realistically take to address those issues? Could a transitional justice mechanism be resorted to?
What remedies were there in place when the freedom of expression was violated? An Expert also raised the issue of two student demonstrators who had been arrested in 2012 and reportedly beaten by the police.
Another Expert asked how the State party was ensuring free exercise of religion other than Islam. Mauritania believed that article 18 ran against the principle of Islam as the state religion. The Expert said that in the Koran there was not one single mention of the punishment of apostasy – how had the crime of apostasy then become a key rule in some Islamic countries? The Koran should be placed before anything else in that respect, in which case there would be no contradiction with article 18.
Responses by the Delegation
A delegate said that civil society representatives had participated in the preparation of the report, even though they had not been members of the committee drafting the report. They had taken place in workshops and seminars, through which they could express their views on what was being drafted. Civil society also had the right to present their own alternative reports.
Mauritania was looking forward to establishing a national mechanism to address the problem of torture. That comprehensive approach would cover prevention, punishment and assisting the victims of torture. Human Rights Commission, International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights non-governmental organizations were all authorized to visit police stations and places of detention, with the view of checking conditions in them. Acts of torture were punishable by law, and a number of policemen had been punished after having been found guilty of acts of torture.
Regarding the reported brutality in 2012, students had been prevented from entering their university, but had never claimed that they were tortured or beaten.
On corporal punishment of children, a delegate said that international norms for children protection were incorporated in the national legislation. Physical integrity of children was protected, and all perpetrators of such violence, including parents and guardians, were punished. Moreover, the Ministry of Education had proscribed corporal punishment in schools.
A biometric system was in place to register newborn children – children could be either registered by documents of their birth, or by parents filling in the paperwork. If a child had not been registered in time, local courts could issue birth certificates at a later stage.
The Expert explained that there were around 1,600 detainees at the moment, which meant that the figures were much lower than those presented by an Expert. No more than four persons were accommodated per room.
On the status of refugees, an Expert said that a law was being prepared, together with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, on the creation of an office which would deal with refugees and standardize legislation with regard to that issue. There were also provisions to provide resources to asylum seekers. About 1,500 persons from Mali, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries, had come to seek refuge in Mauritania, and had been provided asylum in line with the Geneva Convention.
Mauritania was working together with Spain on dealing with migrant issues, and there were no reports of any mistreatment of migrants. There was a four-year program in place, in cooperation with the European Union, on spreading awareness and human rights culture regarding migrants.
Another delegate explained that, according to the current legal code, the legal age of marriage was 18, but there was a deep-rooted societal opposition to that. Efforts were being made, together with non-governmental organizations, to change the mentality, without which no legislation alone would make the difference. The Government was going to issue doctors’ statements on negative consequences of early marriages, and a fatwa on that matter might also be forthcoming.
Mauritania, which had a complex social stratification, had experienced slavery throughout its long history. An Expert said that slavery was not racial in nature, as it had been practiced by all different ethnic and racial groups in Mauritania. The 1961 Constitution had declared all Mauritanians to be equal, but no serious measures had been undertaken to eradicate slavery. In 1979, a first organization to combat slavery had been established. In 1981, a law had been passed, but had been ineffective from the beginning. Only in 2007 had a proper, comprehensive law been passed; that law had criminalized slavery and had been followed with supplementary laws. Subsequently, 13 persons had been prosecuted on charges of slavery, out of whom seven had been convicted and placed in prison. Furthermore, slavery had been defined as a crime against humanity in the Constitution.
The Expert stressed that the systemic slavery did no longer exist, but some vestiges had remained in its aftermath. That was the reason why the agency “Tadamoun” (which meant “solidarity” in Arabic) had been created to fight the vestiges of slavery and eradicate poverty. That agency could take action whenever there were indications that there was the practice of slavery.
Regarding freedom of opinion and expression, the delegate said that there were a lot of political parties in Mauritania, associations and schools of thought. Demonstrations could be easily organized, as long as request was filed in advance.
There was no stratification by race in Mauritania, and ethnicities were not broken down by statistics. The Presidents of the Parliament and the Constitutional Council, as well as a number of other high ranking officials, were descendants of slaves. The delegate reminded that most African states were very young and had been created provisionally by external forces, which had left various groups mixed up in a number of countries.
MOHAMED ABDALLAHI OULD KHATTRA, Human Rights Commissioner for Humanitarian Action and Relations with Civil Society, thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue over the country’s first report. The Government may have shown some lack of experience, but their presence at the Committee showed the good will and readiness to cooperate and improve further. Mauritania had taken significant steps in promoting human rights, including conventions against torture and forced disappearances. Human rights were a matter of culture and needed time to develop and become well rooted. While national surveys were not breaking figures down by ethnicity, all groups were well accepted and respected. The delegation would do its best to provide the requested statistics in the nearest future.
CORNELIS FLINTERMAN, Rapporteur of the Committee, thanked the delegation for the efforts made to address the many questions which had been raised. The discussions provided a good opportunity for the Committee to understand various obstacles which were preventing the full implementation of the Covenant in Mauritania. The Committee would carefully assess the responses provided and would be addressed in the concluding observations.
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