[JURIST] The Mauritanian National Assembly formally criminalized slave ownership Wednesday, unanimously adopting legislation that makes slavery punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The law also criminalizes the promotion or defense of slavery, which will be punishable by up to two years in prison. Slavery, which was officially banned by presidential decree in 1981, persists in certain regions of Mauritania and has never been criminalized.
An anti-slavery organization attributed the law to reforms under President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi [BBC profile]. Abdallahi took office in April [Al Jazeera report] after winning the first democratic elections since a military coup [JURIST report] in 2005 that ended former President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's 21-year rule. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.