23 February, 2023
Mauritania: : The community of human rights defenders shocked by the assassination of Soufi Ould Chein at the premises of a police station in Mauritania
See the Arabic translation here
On Thursday, February 09, 2023, Soufi Ould Chein, President of the “Movement for Social Peace”, responded to a summons from the police of his district, when he was notified that his file had been transferred to the Police station of Dar El -Naim 2 at the Moughataa of Dar-Naim. This compels the human rights defender to follow the police officers to this police station in his own car.
At around 4 p.m., it was brought to the attention of Soufi Ould Chein by the Dar El-Naim 2 police that a complaint had been filed against him, and it was then that the human rights defender was locked up in a cell at the police station.
Surprised by the allegations made against him and the treatment he was being subjected to, the human rights defender contacted a relative who immediately went to the police station to inquire about his situation.
After two hours of waiting and vain and fruitless negotiation to get in touch with the human rights defender, the parent was asked by the Police superintendent to leave the police station premises, there taking care to leave his phone number there, a channel through which the police would call him back at the appropriate time to meet Soufi Ould Chein.
Half an hour later, the parent was contacted by the Police superintendent who informed him that Soufi Ould Chein had just been admitted to the Cheikh Zaed hospital.
At the hospital, the relative instead found the lifeless body of the human rights defender there, which the doctor on duty refused to touch before the arrival and authorization of the Public Prosecutor.
Indeed, the human rights defender’ body shows traces of bondage on the wrists and above the ankles.
The body autopsy results, ordered by the Public Prosecutor, revealed cervical fractures and strangulation causing suffocation, which would have led to the death of Soufi Ould Chein. The signatories of this press release are particularly shocked by the assassination of Soufi ould Chein by State agents whose mission is to protect the human person. We welcome the measures taken by the State of Mauritania and the personal commitment of the Head of State to ensure that justice is done to Soufi Ould Chein and his relatives. We call for impartiality in the handling of the file in compliance with the international human rights commitments of the State of Mauritania in order to identify any other person involved directly or indirectly in the heinous assassination of the human rights defender, Soufi Ould Chein, including the instigators. We encourage the State of Mauritania to take steps to prevent harassment, attacks, and harm to the life of human rights defenders by adopting and implementing a specific national law for human rights defenders’ protection (Soufi Ould Chein law). We call for compliance with United Nations resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979 on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials by officers exercising police powers and in particular the powers of arrest or detention in Mauritania.