Readout of USTR-led Inter-Agency Delegation Visit to Mauritania to Assess Efforts to Address Hereditary Slavery

March 06, 2023

WASHINGTON -  Officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative led an interagency delegation to Nouakchott, Mauritania from February 27 to March 1, 2023, along with representatives from the Departments of Justice, Labor, and State and the United States Agency for International Development, to gather data and information on the status of hereditary slavery across the country and learn more about the criminal justice system and the processes in place to investigate and prosecute slavery cases.

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (GIRM) lost its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility on January 1, 2019, due to insufficient efforts to address forced labor, in particular hereditary slavery.  Although Mauritania has made notable progress to address hereditary slavery, including increasing funding for the anti-slavery courts, limiting the rotation of judges, legalizing NGOs, and increasing outreach and engagement with civil society to address slavery, a better understanding of the criminal justice system's ability to investigate and prosecute slavery cases was needed.

The delegation met with a variety of stakeholders from government, civil society, and international organizations, hearing about the GIRM’s progress in recent years on the issue and getting a sense of the key challenges that remain.  The interagency delegation’s visit underscored the importance that the U.S. government places on combatting forced labor, particularly hereditary slavery in Mauritania. 

The United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with Mauritania to find ways to support the current and ongoing progress in this area.