On February 3, 2016, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez concluded his first official visit to Mauritania. During the 10 day visit, the Special Rapporteur visited places of detention and met high-ranking government officials, civil society groups, and victims’ associations.
At the end of the visit, the Special Rapporteur released a statement thanking the Government for living up to its commitment to respect the integrity and independence of the mission, by providing complete and unhindered access during the visit. He called on the Government “to put into practice the existing laws and safeguards for the protection from torture and ill-treatment for all suspects and detainees” in the country.
The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the near total absence of investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and noted that that “while not rampant, ill-treatment occurs frequently enough – in particular for more serious crimes – that it merits to be taken seriously by the Government.” He urged the Government to review the use of safe houses (unofficial detention facilities), acknowledged by the Mauritanian authorities during the visit. “The use of such facilities and the absence of access to a lawyer for up to 45 days for suspects charged with terrorism creates an environment for torture and ill-treatment,” he warned.
The Special Rapporteur will present his report on the country visit to Mauritania before the UN General Assembly in October 2016.