Apostasy and blasphemy punishable by death

Media freedom has declined dramatically in Mauritania since 2014 after several years of great progress. Under a law passed in November 2017, apostasy and blasphemy are punishable by death even when the offender repents. The law was prompted by the case of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, a blogger whose death sentence for apostasy was finally commuted in 2017 to two years in prison after he had been held for nearly three years. He should have been freed, but instead he is being held incommunicado while the supreme court examines his case and decides whether the new law should be retroactive. At the same time, the December 2015 cyber-crime law makes no exception for posting and sharing content that is in the public interest and provides for long jail terms in defamation cases. It also rescinds older legislation designed to protect journalists using digital technology. Fear of reprisals makes most journalists censor themselves when covering subjects such as corruption, the military, Islam, or slavery, which still exists in Mauritania. In October 2017, the authorities shut down five privately-owned TV and radio stations for allegedly failing to pay overdue taxes in order to silence criticism.

in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index



55 in 2017

Global score


26.49 in 2017

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2019
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2019
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