Will Mauritania finally stop arresting journalists arbitrarily? Several journalists and bloggers critical of the government were arrested and the Internet was disconnected for 11 days during the 2019 presidential election. In 2020, one year after being elected president, Mohamed Ould El-Ghazaouani appointed a national commission for press reform, which delivered its report at the start of 2021. Undertaking to implement its 64 recommendations, the president referred to the consolidation of freedom of expression as a “strategic choice for the state”. Much needs to be done, including passing legal reforms, professionalising the media, improving access to information and providing the media with more economic support. Abuses against journalists have declined in the past two years but structural problems remain. Many journalists work without a contract and are not paid regularly, which makes them more likely to do “journalism for hire,” promotional pieces for anyone ready to pay them. Journalists censor themselves on such subjects as corruption, the military, Islam, inequality between communities and, especially, slavery, which still exists in Mauritania but is off limits for the media. Two foreign journalists have been expelled in recent years after trying to investigate slavery. The blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir was finally released in 2019 after being held for five and a half years. He should have been freed in 2017 when the death sentence for apostasy he received after his arrest in January 2014 was finally commuted to two years in prison. But instead he remained in detention for another two years – often incommunicado, without any access to his family and lawyers – on the grounds that his release could have provoked social unrest.
97 in 2020
32.54 in 2020