In Mauritania, marginalized groups—including women, refugees, the stateless, and former and current victims of slavery—have limited access to justice. For instance, despite a law criminalizing slavery, few investigations and prosecutions are pursued and slavery victims face enormous difficulties in accessing justice. The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in partnership with Search for Common Ground (SFCG), is implementing a program to promote the social and political rights of marginalized groups and to expand their public and political participation. We are collaborating with local civil society organizations to adopt coordinated legal and advocacy responses to marginalization.
Establishing a legal working group
In May 2015, ABA ROLI established a working group that brings together local stakeholders to focus on legal and policy reform, analysis of current slavery cases that are stalled before domestic courts, obstacles to securing legal identity documents and strategic litigation. The working group’s propositions and advocacy efforts will be informed by data collected by community-based paralegals on obstacles marginalized groups are facing in accessing justice and basic services at the community level.
Fostering CSO collaboration
ABA ROLI is working with a coalition of Mauritanian CSOs as they develop their advocacy and collaboration skills to better advance the rights of the marginalized. Partnering with SFCG, ABA ROLI aims to build mutual trust and enhance relationships among CSOs by promoting conflict resolution activities and encouraging dialogue. Additionally, ABA ROLI will train CSOs on non-adversarial advocacy strategies that will enable them to nurture constructive engagement with the government and media, and put forward a robust agenda through the legal working group.
Supporting community-based paralegals
ABA ROLI will partner with a local CSO with a particular focus on women’s rights to train and deploy community-based paralegals. Paralegals will raise awareness about political and civil rights and assist individuals and communities in overcoming basic administrative or legal hurdles, including in obtaining legal identity documents. The paralegals will focus on documenting the obstacles marginalized groups face in accessing basic services and generating reliable data that will inform the legal working group’s efforts.