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Local Mauritanian Community Calls On Steve Chabot For Help

Ambriehl Crutchfield
Community advocates march from Piatt Park to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to raise awareness of apartheid and slavery in Mauritania.

Updated: Tuesday, 9:04 a.m.

Cincinnati's Mauritanian community wants Congress to address human rights issues in their native country. Community advocates rallied Monday to raise awareness of issues going on in the West African country.

Advocates say one of many issues in Mauritania is slavery, which continues today even though the country outlawed it in 1981.

Houley Sall is one of the advocates. She says this is a Cincinnati issue because Mauritians who live and work here are being deported back to the country. "A lot of the Mauritanian community are afraid because if they are deported they are going back to the worse state of living," she says.

U.S. Immigration and Detention Enforcement records show the number of Mauritanians being deported continues to grow.

Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU
Rally organizer Abdoulaye Sow says the problems in Mauritania are human rights issues.

"The Mauritanian government is a government that still promotes slave ownership," says Abdoulaye Sow, who organized the march. "We have untied slave ownership laws but those are just here for you guys to trick you - they’ve never been enforced."

Members of their community continue to be deported back despite the conditions.

The group met with Congressman Steve Chabot Monday to voice their concerns. That night, Chabot emailed WVXU this statement: 

"After meeting with members of the local Mauritanian community, and discussing irregularities in the recent Mauritanian elections, I intend to communicate their deep concerns to the State Department," Chabot wrote. "I will ensure that the voices of my constituents are being heard, and that the State Department is fully aware of these irregularities. I have long advocated for democracy and human rights as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and I believe that Mauritania must live up to internationally recognized standards."