Police Brutalise Demonstrating Senators, Seize Journalists’ Equipment

The police in Mauritania violently disrupted a sit-in by a group of senators who were protesting against the dissolution of the Senate in the country.

On October 6, 2017 a group of discontented senators took positions near the Senate House in Nouakchott to denounce the dissolution of the Senate, the Upper Chamber of Parliament in a disputed referendum held in August 2017. The lawmakers were, however, pounced upon and beaten with truncheons by a contingent of police officers.

One of the Senators, El Malouma Mint El Meidah told Sahara Media that she was severely beaten by the police officers. She added that security forces used abusive language on her and her colleagues.

The security forces reportedly seized the cameras and other recording apparatus of journalists who were covering the assault.

Members of the Senate have largely rejected as a sham the referendum which approved the dissolution of the Upper Chamber among other constitutional revisions, and refused to recognise the outcome.

In September, the government accused the ex-lawmakers of corruption and requested that they be put in jail or under judicial surveillance. The senators however secured a judgment against the decision.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the manhandling of demonstrators and the confiscation of journalists’ equipment by the security agents.

We further appeal to the authorities in Mauritania to ensure that all materials confiscated from journalists are returned to them to enable them discharge their duty of informing the public.

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