Deported Mauritanians are in danger of slavery, torture, and murder

The Trump administration's deportation of dozens of Mauritanian nationals is drawing criticism from Amnesty International, which warned in a statement that the deportees will be at risk of grave human-rights abuses in their home country.
By Rick Docksai | Aug 21, 2018
Amnesty International pleaded Monday against the Trump administration's plans to deport Mauritanian refugees. The human-rights organization warned that the individuals, who are now in federal custody, are at risk of enslavement, torture, and death upon their return to their home country.

Thousands of Mauritanians are living as refugees in the United States. The U.S. government has deported 79 back to Mauritania this fiscal year as of July 30, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Brendan Raedy told Newsweek, adding that an additional 41 Mauritanians are currently in ICE detention.

Raedy said that the deportees included 33 persons with criminal convictions. But Amnesty International fears that many more Mauritanian refugees, even those with no criminal records, may be next. Denise Bell, an Amnesty researcher for refugee and migrant rights, accused ICE of deliberately singling this refugee population out.

"Yet, ICE has targeted them and they target them, it would seem, because they know where they are and because it's easy to do," Bell said.

She said that Amnesty is urging the administration to change course, noting that many of the refugees have integrated well into U.S. society. Many of them have lived in U.S. communities and have been undergoing regular ongoing check-ins with ICE as the law stipulates.

"These are people who have been part of their communities, who have families, have homes, have created businesses," she said.

Mauritania has been a cause of concern among many human-rights groups, who accuse its government of repressing speech and assembly and enforcing a social caste system. They also express alarm over the pervasiveness of slavery in the country: 43,000 people are slaves, adding up to 1% of the entire national population.

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