“The SCA has received information that raised concerns that the CNDH may no longer be operating in full compliance with the Paris Principles. The information related to actions taken and not taken, and statements made and not made, by the CNDH indicating an unwillingness to effectively engage on serious human rights violations, including those relating to torture and conditions of detention, arbitrary detention and freedom of expression.
In particular, the SCA considered the following information:
– The December 2016 Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on his mission to Mauritania (A/HRC/34/54/Add.1), reports “a troubling lack of complaints being brought forward, even to institutions specifically mandated to assist in such cases, such as the National Bar Association and the National Human Rights Commission, both of which informed the Special Rapporteur that they had never received a complaint of torture”. The report further indicates that “the National Human Rights Commission has a mandate to monitor all types of detention centres through unannounced visits and confidential interviews with inmates and their families, in accordance with its founding legislation (see Law No. 2010-031 of 20 July 2010, art. 4). However, allegedly owing to limited resources, the Commission has been unable to pursue such visits since 2012”.
The SCA acknowledges that the CNDH reported that it had conducted various activities in this regard and that details about these activities were contained in its 2017 annual report. However, the SCA was, as of the date of this review, unable to locate these references in the 2017 annual report. In the absence of such evidence, the SCA is concerned that the CNDH is not effectively carrying out its mandate in relation to monitoring places of deprivation of liberty.
– The SCA received information about the closure of five (5) private television stations in October 2017, allegedly for non-payment of taxes.
During the session, the SCA asked the CNDH to provide details on what, if any, action it took in relation to this issue. The CNDH reported that it did not take any action as this was a tax issue.
The SCA is of the view that the response provided by the CNDH is insufficient and demonstrates an unwillingness to address all human rights issues, including those relating to freedom of expression and right of information of the public.
– In November 2016, the SCA raised the case of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed who was convicted and sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy. The SCA noted that the CNDH had issued a statement which supported the application of the death penalty for apostasy. It noted the CNDH’s position that, while the statement had been issued, it had not been authorized by the President of the CNDH. The SCA noted, however, that the CNDH did not issue a formal retraction or made public any statements that the application of the death penalty for this crime is inconsistent with international law. The SCA emphasized that NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for all human rights, democratic principles and strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances and without exception.
During the November 2017 session, the SCA requested information from the CNDH regarding its activities in relation to the application of the death penalty. The CNDH reported that it had taken a position in favour of abolition in its 2017 annual report. However, the SCA was, as of the date of this review, unable to locate this reference in the 2017 annual report. In the absence of supporting evidence, the SCA remains concerned that the CNDH has not taken the steps necessary to implement the recommendations made by the SCA in November 2016.
The SCA is of the view that the CNDH has not spoken out in a manner that promotes protection for human rights.
An NHRI’s mandate should be interpreted in a broad, liberal and purposive manner to promote a progressive definition of human rights which includes all rights set out in international, regional and domestic instruments. NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for all human rights, democratic principles and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances, and without exception. Where serious violations of human rights are imminent, NHRIs are expected to conduct themselves with a heightened level of vigilance and independence.”