The trial of 13 Mauritanian anti-slavery activists charged with use of violence and attack against public authorities has been adjourned to August 8.
Earlier last month, the activists contested the displacement of the Haratin ethnic group, many of whom are former slaves-from an area they have occupied for decades.
The activists were defended on Wednesday by close to 40 lawyers .
Several members and supporters of the Abolitionist Movement were in court to support the accused who risk paying heavy fines and up to two years of imprisonment.
They carried “No to slavery and Racism,“posters.
The Mauritanian government has been repeatedly accused of intimidation and violence targeting anti-slavery activists although government officials say reforms are underway to reduce its prevalence.
“We urge the Mauritanian authorities to put an end to the increasing repression against these activists,’‘ an official of Amnesty international, Dakar Kiné Fatim Diop told reporters.
Mauritania officially abolished slavery in 1981 but its practice persists.
An anti-slavery law was adopted in August 2015 making slavery “a crime against humanity.”
The law increased prison terms related to slavery crimes from 5 and ten years to close to 20 years in jail.