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Mauritania[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Mauritania ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on May 16, 1991.  Mauritania has not signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.  According to Article 80 of the Constitution of Mauritania (adopted July 12, 1991), international law is superior to state law.[2]

 

There is no procedure in Mauritania for intervening to help children who are abused or neglected, or any mechanism to monitor or investigate complaints about child abuse and neglect.   There is also no procedure for forcible separation from the parents when a child is abused or neglected.  There is no provision in Mauritania's laws or case law to require that a child's views be heard in matters that affect the child.[3]  According to Mauritania's report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child the weight of tradition is behind respect for the parents' views, not the child's, but “parents are increasingly taking into account children's views.”[4]  A 2001 law on the status of individuals says that the legal representation of the child is carried out by the father, the judge, or by the guardian but this law relates mostly to matter of property.  It does not appear that the child is given representation in other matters. 

 

It is against the law to neglect a child in Mauritania.  Neglect of a child is a crime punishable under the Criminal Code by 10 days to 6 months imprisonment.[5] Child abuse may fall under the definition of neglect because Mauritanian law guarantees children protection against any neglect involving physical or moral harm[6] but child abuse is not specifically outlawed as child neglect is.  It appears that, in practice, few cases of child neglect or abuse are prosecuted.  Mauritania has passed several laws aimed at eliminating child labor and improving criminal justice procedures involving juveniles.[7]  The political situation of the country is very shaky and further reforms incorporating the Convention into Mauritanian law is difficult at this time.  In 1992, Mauritania established a Secretary of State for the Status of Women and of the National Council for Children to promote children rights.

 

Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text (Arabic)

 

International Law

 

Convention of the Rights of the Child[8]

المادة 12

1. تكفل الدول الأطراف في هذه الاتفاقية للطفل القادر على تكوين آرائه الخاصة حق التعبير عن تلك الآراء بحرية في جميع المسائل التي تمس الطفل، وتولى آراء الطفل الاعتبار الواجب وفقا لسن الطفل ونضجه.
2. ولهذا الغرض، تتاح للطفل، بوجه خاص، فرصة الاستماع إليه في أي إجراءات قضائية وإدارية تمس الطفل، إما مباشرة، أو من خلال ممثل أو هيئة ملائمة، بطريقة تتفق مع القواعد الإجرائية للقانون الوطني.

 

Statutes

 

Article 177 : تمارس النيابة الشرعية عن القاصر

من الأب أو القاضي أو الوصي أو المقدم.

إذا باشرها الأب أو القاضي سمي وليا ويسمى وصيا من عينه

الأب أو وصيه ومقدما إذا كان تعيينه من طرف القاضي.

المادة[9]

 

Original Text (French)

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant[10]

 

Article 12

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Statutes

 

Loi N° 2001-052 du 19 Juillet 2001 Portant Code du Statut Personnel[11]

 

Article 177: La représentation légale du mineur est exercée par le père, le juge, le tuteur

testamentaire ou le curateur. Sont nommés, tuteur légal, le père et le juge. Sont nommés, tuteur testamentaire, celui qui est désigné par le père ou par un précédent tuteur testamentaire. Est nommé, tuteur datif, celui qui est désigné par le juge.

 

Translation

 

International Agreements

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified May 16, 1991[12]

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Statutes

 

Law on the Status of Individuals, 2001-052[13]

 

Article 177:

The legal representation of a minor is carried out by the father, the judge, the testamentary guardian or by the guardian.

Are named, legal guardian, the father and the judge.

Is named, testamentary guardian, the person who is designated by the father or by a previous testamentary guardian.

Is named, appointed guardian, the person who is appointed by the judge.

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Official webpage of Mauritania: http://www.mauritania.mr/

 

Constitution of Mauritania: http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/mr00000_.html

 

UNICEF Mauritania: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/mauritania_contact.html

 

National Report on Follow-up to the World Summit for Children (December 2000), available as .pdf Document.

 

Report of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding Mauritania (2001), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 

Alternative Report to the Initial Official Mauritanian Report to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Prepared by CONAMAF (Coordination Nationale du Mouvement Associatif Féminin) (May 2001), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Const. of Mauritania, available at http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/mr00000_.html.

[3] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Mauritania, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15Add.159 (2001), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Initial Report of Mauritania to the Committee on the Rights of the Child [hereinafter Initial Report], U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.42, at 14 (Jan. 10, 2001), available as .pdf Document.

[5] Criminal Code of Mauritania, Art. 331.

[6] “Mauritanian law guarantees children protection against any neglect involving physical or moral harm.” Initial Report, supra note 3, at 24. 

[7] Arrêté n° 2003-1524 du 9 septembre 2003 portant règlement intérieur des centres de rééducation des enfants en conflit avec la loi [laying out rules of procedure for criminal cases involving juveniles]; Loi n° 2001-033 du 5 juillet 2001 autorisant le Président de la République à ratifier la convention n° 138 concernant l'âge minimum d'admission des enfants à l'emploi [authorizing the President of Mauritania to sign UN Convention 138 on child labor]; Loi n° 2001-23 du 28 janvier 2001 autorisant le Président de la République à ratifier la Convention n° 182 sur les pires formes de travail des enfants et l'action immédiate en vue de leur élimination [authorizing the President of Mauritania to sign UN Convention 182 on eliminating child labor].

[8] This Arabic translation of Article 12, available at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/arab/b026.html, is not official. 

[9] Loi N° 2001-052 du 19 Juillet 2001 Portant Code du Statut Personnel (Arabic), available as .pdf Document.

[10] Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/french/law/crc.htm.

[11] Loi N° 2001-052 du 19 Juillet 2001 Portant Code du Statut Personnel (French), available as .pdf Document

[12] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[13] This unofficial English translation of Law 2001-052 was provided by the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at the Yale Law School. 

 

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