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Skip Navigation LinksPOGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Civil Society: Mauritania
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Laws of Associations

The Mauritanian constitution guarantees the freedom of establishing civil associations, organizations and political parties, but it forbids the establishment of any political party on religious foundation. Non-governmental organizations are governed by a law passed in 1964 that obligates civil associations to obtain official approval before they commence their activities.

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Political Parties

After a 20-year ban on Islamic political parties in Mauritania, the “National Rally for Reform and Development” (Islamic) obtained a License to exercise political action on August 9, 2007. The party was founded by a group who call themselves “Centrist Reformers,” the Mauritanian version of the Muslim Brothers Group. Mr. Mohammad Jamil Mansour was elected president of the new party. Dr. Al-Mukhtar Weld Mohammad Musa, a leading member of the “Rally” pledged that the new party would be a civilian party with Islamic guidance and would loyally share in building the country. Women occupy 30% of the Rally’s seats in parliament. The Rally’s parliamentary block is led by a woman, Dr. Zainab Bint Dadeh, who deserted the Baath party. Licensing of the Rally Party was granted along with 18 political parties, two of which are led by two women.

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Associations and Unions

Some of the newly licensed NGOs are "Lawyers Without Frontiers", "Research and Studies Team on Democracy, Economic and Social Development", "Committee for Solidarity with Victims of Human Rights Violations in Mauritania" and "The Forum of National Human Rights Organizations". The authorities have also licensed an office for "The Arab Human Rights Organization" in Nouakchott. The Military Council issued legal order No. 15/2006 on July 12, 2006 pertaining to establishing "The National Human Rights Committee" directly attached to the prime minister. This legal order considered that committee as an independent public institution that enjoys administrative and financial independence. According to "Paris Principles" the committee's tasks are: (1) Providing advice, upon the government's request or by its own initiative, on public or private issues pertaining to advancing and protecting human rights and enhancing respect of individual and collective freedoms; (2) Critically examining national legislation and draft texts in the area of human rights. (3) Disseminating knowledge of human rights and combating all forms of discrimination and degrading practices, especially racial discrimination, enslavement and discrimination against women. The committee is to achieve this through raising public awareness utilizing the media and the education system. (4) Observing the consistency of national legislation with ratified human rights conventions and combating practices that contradict such conventions. (5) Looking after the condition of prisoners and detainees.

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Media and Government Regulations

Concerning freedom of the press, legal order No. 17/2006 issued on July 12, 2006, put an end to the censorship system stipulated in article 11 of 1991 legal order. A new press law no. 34/2000 was promulgated on October 20, 2006. The law stipulates establishing "The Supreme Authority for Press and Audio Visuals". This authority is directly attached to the prime minister, has legal personality, financial independence, and is entrusted with organizing the mass communications sector. This Authority is composed of 6 members, 3 of whom are appointed by the President, 2 by the speaker of the National Assembly, and one by the speaker of the Senate. It has a 5-year term that is renewable one more time. The Authority's term is irrevocable. The preamble of the press law states that "The right to information represents every person's right to know the truth about issues and matters that concern him/her, or that concern his/her country as well as international matters. This is one of the basic freedoms uphold by Mauritanians. The same is true of freedom of expression. The media is an essential tool for achieving economic and social development, for enriching culture, and for civil and political democratic education. The press, printing press and bookstores are free on Mauritanian soil".

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