from four to five years. The evidence was based almost exclusively on statements made to the police
during their time in custody. They tried in court to retract these statements, arguing that they had been
given under duress. Apparently, the tribunal did not try to clarify these facts.
9. At the end of April 1987, six persons were charged with distribution of tracts. Just before their trial,
arson charges were added to the list of offences with which they were being accused. The lawyers,
once again, did not have sufficient time to prepare the defence of their clients. All of the accused were
found guilty by the court and sentenced to four years imprisonment. The Supreme Court later
confirmed the sentences, regardless of the irregularities that occurred during the course of the trial.
10. On 28 October 1987, the Mauritanian Minister of Interior announced the discovery of a plot
against the government. In reality, all those accused of taking part in this plot belonged to the Black
ethnic groups from the South of the country. Over 50 persons were tried for conspiracy by the special
tribunal presided by a senior army officer who was not known to have legal training. He was assisted
by two assessors, both of them army officers. No appeal was provided for. The accused were kept in
solitary confinement in military camps and deprived of sleep during their interrogation. They were
charged with“ endangering State security by participating in a plot aimed at deposing the government
and provoking massacres and looting among the country’s inhabitants”. A special summary procedure
was applied, under the pretext that they had been caught in flagrante delicto. This procedure provides
for a trial without any prior investigation by an investigating magistrate. It restricts the rights of the
defence as well as access to lawyers and allows the court to pass judgement without any obligation on
the part of the judges to indicate the legal bases for their conclusions. Such a procedure is not
normally applied in cases relating to a conspiracy or an attempted crime. It is applicable to an already
consummated crime. Those who were convicted on 3 December 1987 did not have the right to file
appeal. Three lieutenants were sentenced to death and executed three days [later]. The executions
were reportedly stretched out in a manner as to subject the convicts to a slow and cruel death. To put
an end to their suffering, they had to [beg] the executioners to kill them as quickly as possible. The
other accused were sentenced to life imprisonment.
11. Some presumed members of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party were also imprisoned for a political
cause. In September 1987, 17 supposed members of the party were arrested and charged with
belonging to a criminal association, participating in unauthorised meetings and abduction of children.
Seven of the accused were sentenced to a seven-month suspended term of imprisonment. On 10
September 1988, in another trial before the State Security Section of the special tribunal, 16 presumed
Ba’athists were charged with disturbing the internal security of the State, having contacts with foreign
powers and recruiting military personnel in a time of peace. Thirteen of them were found guilty, mainly
on the basis of statements that they sought to withdraw during the trial, on the basis that they had
been made under duress. The accused were held in solitary confinement in a police camp and did not
have the right to consult their lawyers until three or four days before the trial. Communication 61/91
avers that the accused were arrested and imprisoned for their non-violent political opinions and
activities.
12. Communication 61/91 also alleges that their conditions of detention were the worst and cites
many examples to prove these allegations. Thus, from December 1987 to September 1988, those
detained at Ouatala prison only received a small amount of rice per day, without any meat or salt.
Some of them had to eat leaves and grass. The prisoners were forced to carry out very hard labour
day and night and were chained up in pairs in windowless cells. They only received one set of clothes
and lived in very bad conditions of hygiene. As from February 1988, their guards regularly beat them
up. From the time of their arrival in the detention camp, they only received one visit. Only the guards
and prison authorities were authorised to approach them. Between August and September 1988, four
prisoners died of malnutrition and lack of medical attention. After the fourth death, the civilian prisoners
in Ouatala were transferred to the Aïoun-el Atrouss prison, which had medical infrastructure. Some of
them were so weak that they could only move on all fours. In the Nouakchott prisons, the cells were
overcrowded. The prisoners slept on the floor without any blankets, even during the cold season. The
cells were infested with lice, bedbugs and cockroaches, and nothing was done to ensure hygiene and
provision of health care. The Black prisoners, from the South of the country, complained of
discrimination by the guards and security forces, who were mainly of the Beidane or Moorish ethnic

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