AI Index: AFR 38/006/2005
29 April 2005

UA 103/05

Fear of torture or ill treatment / Incommunicado detention/ Possible prisoners of conscience


Cheikh Mohamed EL Hacen Ould Dedew (m), Imam (religious leader)
El Moctar Ould Mohamed Moussa (m), leader of the National Party for Democratic Convergence
Mohamed Ahmed Ould El Hadj Sidi (m), human rights lawyer and law professor
Cheikhani Ould Beïba (m), President of the Association for Wisdom, Authenticity and Revival of Patrimony (Al-Hikma)
Mohamed Lemine Ould Moustapha (m), Imam
Habib Ould Houmdeïtt (m), Counsellor to the Minister of Culture
Abdallah Ould Eminou (m), Imam
Al Hacene Ould Habibullah (m), Imam
Mohamed Sidiya (m), professor
Sidi Mohamed Ould Sidi (m), businessman
Ahmed Ould Al Kowri (m), professor
Mohamed Ould Abarrahmane (m), journalist at Al
Bounenna Ould Bebbah (m), professor
Cheikh Ahmed Ould Mohamedine Vall (m)
Khalid Ould Isselmou (m), Imam
Abderahmane Ould Emine (m), Imam
Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Bilil (m)

The men named above were arrested by members of the security forces on 25 April in the capital Nouakchott. They are being held in incommunicado, without access to lawyers and their families at an unknown location in the capital, where they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Amnesty International considers the detainees to be possible prisoners of conscience, as they may have been arrested solely for the peaceful expression of their religious or political beliefs. They have not been formally charged with a recognizably offence nor have they appeared before a judge.

A spokesman for the Mauritanian police has accused the detainees of planning acts of terrorism and also being in contact with a fundamentalist group allied to al Qaeda. They have also been accused of having links with the militant Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which is an armed opposition group, based in Algeria.


The arrests appear to be part of a veiled campaign of threats and intimidation against religious figures and the opposition in Mauritania. A similar wave of arrests was carried out in 2003 when several of the men named above, were held in incommunicado for several weeks and charged with “plotting against the constitutional regime and incitement to undermine the State’s internal and external public order”. They were then released without trial.

Cheikh Mohamed EL Hacen Ould Dedew and El Moctar Ould Mohamed Moussa are former prisoners of conscience. They were arrested twice in 2004. In October, they were held incommunicado for six days in Nouakchott then released without charge. They were then rearrested in November and detained incommunicado for 14 days at an unknown location. They were later charged with “complicity in the fabrication and forgery of documents that might cause a disturbance to public order and prejudice internal and external security” but released without trial. (See UA 284/04, AFR 38/003/2004, 8 October 2004 and follow ups)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Arabic, French, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the incommunicado detention of the men named above who were arrested by members of the security forces on 25 April 2005 in the capital Nouakchott;
- seeking assurances that they are not being tortured or ill-treated and calling for them to be given regular access to their families, lawyers and medical attention if necessary;
- urging the authorities to release the detainees immediately, unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence;

APPEALS TO: (fax numbers can be difficult to get through, please send letters instead)

Attorney General
Procureur Général près de la Cour suprême
M. Abdelrahman Ould Abdi
Palais de Justice
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Fax: + 222 525 5194
Salutation: Monsieur le Procureur Général / Dear Attorney General

President of the Republic
Président de la République
Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya
Présidence de la République
B.P. 184
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Salutation: Monsieur le Président / Dear Mr President

Minister for the Interior, Post and Telecommunications
Ministre de l’Intérieur, des Postes et Télécommunications
M. Mohamed Ghaly Ould Chérif Ahmed
B.P. 195
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister

COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Mauritania accredited to your country.

FAX + 49 30-206 747 50

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 June 2005.

Source: Amnesty International, International Secretariat,
1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom