The 1991 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (as amended) does not explicitly protect the right to life but Article 13 provides that no one shall be submitted to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and guarantees the inviolability of the human person.
Under Article 10, the State guarantees to all citizens the freedom of assembly.
The Constitution does not refer to the police or otherwise regulate the use of force in law enforcement.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Not party|
|1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights||State Party|
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||State Party|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||No|
|Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Not party|
|2004 Arab Charter on Human Rights||Not party|
Police Use of Force
The Police and the Gendarmerie Nationale are Mauritania's main law enforcement agencies. The gendarmerie is part of the army. The police is under the Ministry of Interior and Decentralization. Since the re-election of President Aziz in 2014, reforms have been implemented that seek to develop a modern, service-oriented police force.
According to the Government, the law criminalizing torture, the Criminal Code, and the 2010 Law on the Status of the National Police all "prohibit any violation of the physical or moral integrity of the human person".
Article 15 of the 2010 Law provides that police officers are obligated to
refrain from any act of a nature to infringe individual or collective freedoms, except where provided by law, as well as any act that would amount to cruel or degrading treatment constituting a violation of human rights....
Article 18 gives every police officer "the right to carry a weapon provided by the service", but there does not appear to be legislation restricting use of firearms by law enforcement agencies.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Mauritania. In its 2013 Concluding Observations on Mauritania, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern
that no specific independent authority has been set up to examine complaints made against the police and security forces....
There exist both the office of an Ombudsman (Médiateur de la République) and a National Human Rights Commission, although their effectiveness in addressing complaints of unlawful use of force by law enforcement agencies is open to question.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2019 Concluding Observations on Mauritania, the Human Rights Committee remained concern at "consistent reports that torture is still a common practice in the police and gendarmerie forces, typically during arrest, police custody and transfers, especially in cases of terrorism-related offences".
In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Mauritania, the Committee against Torture remained concerned
about corroborating information from reliable sources and from the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that torture remains a widespread practice in [the police and gendarmerie], particularly during arrest, police custody and transfers, irrespective of the nature of the alleged offence, and is of a systematic nature in the context of terrorist offences.
The Committee also remained concerned
about allegations that deaths have occurred in suspicious circumstances ... [and] about allegations that autopsies are not carried out in cases of death in detention, owing to a lack of forensic doctors; that there is ill-treatment in prisons, with handcuffing and painful shackling during transfers; and that searches of body cavities are regularly used....
In its 2013 Concluding Observations on Mauritania, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern at
allegations of the systematic practice of torture and ill-treatment or excessive use of force by members of the police or the security forces during demonstrations, arrests and interrogations, including of terrorism suspects and migrants, in places of detention, in particular in Dar Naim.
The Committee was also concerned that, during rallies and demonstrations in Mauritania, "human rights defenders and the demonstrators are threatened, intimidated and harassed by members of the security forces or the police."
In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Mauritania, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights called on Mauritania to adopt or revise laws and policies relating to arrest and police custody.