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    June 25, 2013
    Amnesty International delegation speaks with Mauritania’s Director of Penitentiary and Penal Affairs inside the entrance to the Prison Centrale in Nouakchott.

    Alex Neve,
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    Nouakchott, Mauritania
    June 24, 2013


    "I came to study Arabic and the Koran.  I have learned about torture and injustice."

    -  Canadian national Aaron Yoon, 24 years of age, interviewed in the Prison Civil, Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 2013.

    Over the past ten days, as part of an Amnesty International mission in Mauritania I have spent many days interviewing prisoners in three prisons in the capital, Nouakchott.  For years now, Amnesty International has documented serious and widespread torture in Mauritania and the research mission followed up on those and other human rights concerns.  

    Among many prisoners I interviewed in Nouakchott’s Prison Centrale, I heard much about torture from a young Canadian man, Aaron Yoon, who has been held here for the past 18 months.  Aaron’s tale is a complicated and unusual one; which he realizes.  He knows that many Canadians will have questions about the chain of events that brought him to this point.  But he wants all to realize that he has been tortured and has been convicted on the basis of a blatantly unfair trial that gave him no opportunity to defend himself.  As he said to me: "I hope people will not rush to judge me unless they give me a fair chance to respond to what is being said about me.  It is terrible to be tortured.  It makes you say what they want you to say."


    << UPDATE: A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should now be released from prison. Learn more

    The concerns about torture in Mauritania are widespread and longstanding, including in the cases of a growing number of prisoners held on charges related to terrorism or national security, but also with respect to minors, women and men detained on ordinary criminal charges.  In fact, virtually no one is safe from torture when in the hands of the Mauritanian police.

    June 25, 2013

    Posted at 0001 hrs GMT  26 June 2013

    Police in Mauritania are using torture to coerce men, women and children to confess to crimes while in custody, Amnesty International said after a 10-day research mission.

    The delegation in Mauritania interviewed around 60 detainees, including women and children, held in three prisons in the capital, Nouakchott.

    “Prisoners, including men held on ordinary and terrorism-related charges, spoke to us about the torture they had faced while in police custody. Many had been tried in grossly unfair procedures and some were subjected to enforced disappearance,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada English Branch, who was part of the delegation.

    Eleven children told Amnesty International’s delegates they had been tortured in police stations, including at the Brigade des Jeunes, a police post in Mauritania’s capital with a specific mandate to deal with juvenile offenders.

    April 05, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Canadian citizen Aaron Yoon is detained at a prison in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  An Amnesty International researcher interviewed him in prison during an Amnesty International mission to the country in July 2012. 

    At that time Mr. Yoon very clearly indicated that he did not want Amnesty International to take up or campaign on his case.  Amnesty International respects the wishes of prisoners with respect to what action they do or do not want the organization to take on their behalf.  As a result we have not campaigned on Mr. Yoon’s case in any way.

    Amnesty International has since confirmed that Mr. Yoon was brought to trial on terrorism-related charges in the summer of 2012 and sentenced to a two year prison sentence, beginning from the time of his arrest in December 2011.  As such he should be slated for release in December 2013.


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