Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Published in 2024

Legal sources

Executive Summary

Mauritania’s legal system combines civil law with Sharia, imposing severe penalties for offenses related to religion. 

There are no specific laws to protect whistleblowers, and individuals who disclose sensitive information have no recourse against retaliation. 

The media operates in an ambiguous legal environment, where freedoms are constrained by the law, and law enforcement may appear arbitrary. Journalists appear to practice self-censorship, especially when addressing sensitive topics such as the military, corruption, Islam, and slavery. A particular case that has sparked outrage among human rights advocates involves the death sentence of a blogger for critical statements about Islam.

Laws and measures related to whistleblowers

  • Absence of whistleblower protection in the Labor Code

The Labor Code does not reference the protection of whistleblowers. However, it limits legitimate grounds for dismissal to force majeure, mutual consent of the employer and the employee, serious misconduct by one of the parties “left to the discretion of the competent jurisdiction,” or the death of the employee (article 44). In the case of a contested dismissal, it is up to the employer to prove a legitimate reason, although no penalty for wrongful dismissal is provided (article 60). Dismissal for whistleblowing is not specifically prohibited, unlike dismissal based on race, color, sex, age, or political opinions (article 60). Mediation between the parties is required before a case can be brought before the Labor Tribunal.

  • Limited Protection of Witnesses, Experts, Whistleblowers, and Victims in Mauritania’s Anti-Corruption Law

Law No. 2016.014 on the fight against corruption establishes protection for witnesses, experts, whistleblowers, and victims in Article 19. Indeed, this article stipulates that they “shall be provided with special protection by the State” and “any person who resorts to revenge, intimidation, or threat, in any form or manner whatsoever, against witnesses, experts, victims, whistleblowers, or their family members or other close persons, shall be punished with imprisonment from one (01) to five (05) years and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to one million (1,000,000) ouguiyas.” The article specifies that a decree will organize the modalities of protection, but this decree is not available online to date.

This law also penalizes “non-disclosure” of offenses; in this sense, Article 20 states: “any person who, by his function or profession, permanent or temporary, becomes aware of one or more offenses provided for in this law, and does not inform the competent public authorities promptly, shall be punished with imprisonment from one (01) to five (05) years and a fine of two hundred thousand (200,000) to one million (1,000,000) ouguiyas.”

The implementation of this protection is commendable even though it remains inadequate because the modalities and measures of protection are not defined, nor are its areas of application. It is also important to note that there is no evidence to indicate whether these provisions are effectively applied.

It is therefore evident that there is no specific legal provision for protecting whistleblowers. However, the provisions on the protection of witnesses, experts, victims, and whistleblowers, although insufficient, can apply to whistleblowers in certain cases.

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Legal Notice - Copyright 2024

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Copyright 2022