RSF signs joint statement on Mauritania’s new blasphemy law

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and 20 other human rights NGOs have issued a joint statement condemning Mauritania’s new law on apostasy, under which any “blasphemous” comment is punishable by death even when the accused repents.

RSF regards the law as threat to Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaïtir, a blogger who was sentenced to death in 2014 for a blog post regarded as blasphemous. Entitled “Religion, religiosity and craftsmen,” it criticized Mauritania’s caste system.

Taking account of the fact that he had repented, the supreme court reduced his sentence to two years in prison in 2017 but, although he has spent much more than two years in detention, he has still not been released. The new apostasy law, under which any form of blasphemy is punishable by death even when the defendant repents, was passed by Mauritania’s national assembly on 27 April.

The joint statement by the 21 human rights NGOs voices concern that the timing of the new law’s adoption appears to be related to the Mkhaïtir case and calls for an immediate end to blogger’s arbitrary detention.

The statement and list of NGOs that signed it can be seen below.

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Updated on 07.05.2018