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Optional protocolon the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools, penal institutions and as a sentence for crime.
Overview of the child rights situation

The Mauritania report shows considerable shortcomings in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Girls in particular experience female genital mutilation, slavery and violence. The education and health systems are in poor condition. There have not been many improvements since the previous report.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee urges the State party to eliminate all forms of female genital mutilation and forced feeding (gavage) of children and explicitly criminalize all types of female genital mutilation. Furthermore, the Committee urges the State party to ensure that the legislation in that regard is strictly enforced, including by allocating sufficient resources for the implementation of the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and bringing to justice those who carry out such harmful practices as well as enforce the obligation to report cases of genital mutilation performed on girls.

In addition to that, the Committee recommends that the State party integrate sexual and reproductive health education into the mandatory school curriculum for adolescent girls and boys, with special attention paid to preventing early pregnancy, and provide free, confidential and non-discriminatory sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents, in particular access to modern contraception methods. Also, Mauritania should decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services and that their views are always heard and given due consideration in making abortion-related decisions.

Situation of children with disabilities

While welcoming the various legislative measures to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and the establishment of the Directorate for Persons with Disability, the Committee urges the State party to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability and ensure that all children with disabilities, including those in rural and remote communities, have access to adequate health-care and mental health services, including early detection and intervention programmes. Also, Mauritania should guarantee all children with disabilities the right to inclusive education in mainstream schools, ensure that inclusive education is given priority over the placement of children in specialized educational institutions and classes, and train and assign specialized teachers and professionals working in integrated classes to support children with learning difficulties. The Committee also recommends to undertake awareness-raising campaigns aimed at government officials, the general public and families in order to combat the stigmatization of and prejudice against children with disabilities, especially children with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and promote a positive image of such children.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee notes with concern that refugee and migrant children living outside of the Mbera camp are not receiving the necessary protection and services and are being subjected to various forms of exploitation. The Committee also notes with concern the detention of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children for immigration-related purposes, as well as the reports of Malian refugee children being allegedly recruited by non-State armed groups to participate in the armed conflict in Mali. To improve the situation, the Committee recommends that Mauritania expedite the adoption of the draft National Asylum Law, and ensure that it is fully in line with the Convention, in order to facilitate the access of asylum-seeking children to fair, efficient and child-sensitive asylum procedures and to local integration, including for such children in need of international protection. Also, Mauritania should ensure that all asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children, regardless of their status, can obtain individual identity documentation and have access to formal education and medical care. Further, the Committee recommends to prohibit the detention of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children and take all necessary measures to prevent the recruitment of Malian refugee children by non-State armed groups.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
physical health

While noting with appreciation the increased budgetary allocations for health care, the Committee remains concerned about the extremely high rates of infant, under-5 and maternal mortality and acute malnutrition, as well as the low number of births attended by skilled health personnel, in particular among girls in rural areas, the lack of availability of mental health services and the high rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party prioritize measures to decrease infant and under-5 mortality rates by, inter alia, improving ante- and postnatal care, enhancing the capacity of health-care providers, increasing the availability and accessibility of emergency obstetric care and skilled birth attendants in rural areas. Mauritania should also ensure that health-care and nutrition services, including any national nutrition plans, are extended to the more vulnerable families and to rural and remote communities.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee recommends to implement comprehensive policies and strategies at the national level, with the full participation of families and communities, to promote mental health, prevent mental health disorders and provide adequate mental health services for the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues among children, as well as the necessary facilities and qualified personnel and support to families with children at risk.

Business sector

The Committee recommends that the State party establish and implement regulations to ensure that the business sector complies with international and national human rights, labour, environmental and other standards, particularly as they relate to children’s rights. In particular, it recommends that the State party establish a clear regulatory framework for the industries operating in the State party, in particular the fishing, agriculture and extractive industries, to ensure that their activities do not negatively affect children’s rights or contravene environmental and other standards. Also, the State party should examine and adapt its legislative framework, including its civil, criminal and administrative aspects, to ensure the legal accountability of companies and their subsidiaries operating in or managed from the State party’s territory, especially in the mining industry. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party require companies to undertake assessments of and consultations on the environmental, health-related and human rights impacts of their business activities and their plans to address such impacts and to fully and publicly disclose those assessments, consultations and plans.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee is concerned about the limited availability of juvenile courts and separate detention facilities for children, as well as about reports of children facing long periods of pretrial detention.
The Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards and, in particular, recommends that the State party ensure that all persons under the age of 18 are tried exclusively by specialist juvenile courts, without exception, and establish such courts with specially trained juvenile judges at locations outside of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. The Committee further recommends to expedite trials involving children, with a view to reducing the period of pretrial detention, prohibit the detention of children together with adults and ensure that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to providing a safe, child-sensitive environment, the ability to maintain regular contact with family members, and access to health services and education, including vocational training. Also, Mauritania should ensure that the juvenile justice system is equipped with adequate human, technical and financial resources, and that children in conflict with the law receive free, qualified and independent legal counsel, in appropriate languages, at an early stage of the procedure and throughout legal proceedings.

Specific observations

The Committee welcomes the measures taken to promote birth registration, including reforms made to the civil registration system, the introduction of biometric registration and the expansion of registration centres. However, it remains concerned about the persistently low rate of registration of children, including among asylum-seeking and refugee children, and the limited awareness among the population of the importance of birth registration. Also, the Committee notes with concern that the procedures for conferring citizenship on children born to Mauritanian mothers and non-Mauritanian fathers are different from those for children born to Mauritanian fathers. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party review its legislation on nationality in order to ensure equality in the procedures for transmitting nationality to children through both the maternal and paternal line, in particular for those children who would otherwise be stateless.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports released on 26 November 2018. The Committee encourages the State party to withdraw its general reservation to the Convention.

Last Updated (date)27th of February, 2022