Two human rights activists held briefly were prisoners of conscience. At least 60 Islamists, some of whom may have been prisoners of conscience, were detained for about two weeks; some were reportedly tortured. Many of the 60,000 black Mauritanians who were expelled or had fled from human rights violations in 1989 or 1990 (see Amnesty International Reports 1990 and 1991) remained in exile in neighbouring Mali or Senegal. Some who returned in 1994 were arrested or forcibly expelled when they tried to regain access to their land or property. Others were arrested on suspicion of having contact with those deported to Senegal or Mali. The level of human rights violations in southern Mauritania was lower than in 1989 and 1990: however, complaints about torture, extrajudicial executions and "disappearances" were not adequately investigated. The government prevented judicial investigations into past human rights violations and the publication of information about such violations. A total amnesty had been enacted in 1993 for offences committed between 1989 and 1992, a period of intense and widespread human rights violations, and the pattern established in previous years of complete immunity from prosecution for human rights violations continued. Several newspapers and magazines were seized to prevent the circulation of human rights information and criticism of the government. Two prisoners of conscience, both human rights activists, were detained briefly. Professor Cheikh Saad Bouh Kamara, President of the Association mauritanienne des droits de l'homme (AMDH), Mauritanian Human Rights Association, was held for five days in January shortly after he had met representatives of two visiting French human rights organizations. His house was searched and papers relating to his human rights activities were confiscated. The AMDH had not been given official legal status despite its application in 1992. In July Ly Haoussou Haïdara, a member of the support committee for the victims of repression in Mauritania, was held briefly and questioned about her nationality. The real reason for her arrest may have been that she had recently met a delegation of deported Mauritanians who were on an official visit to Mauritania. At least 60 Islamist activists, including foreign nationals, were detained for up to 16 days. It appeared that some had not used or advocated violence and were prisoners of conscience. Some of those arrested, including El Hacen Ould Moulaye Ely, were active members of the opposition Union des forces démocratiques – Ere nouvelle (UFD-EN), Union of Democratic Forces – New Era. Others, such as former minister Aboubekrine Ould Ahmed, were close to the government. All were arrested on or around 25 September in the capital, Nouakchott, and elsewhere. The same day the Minister of the Interior stated that secret organizations had been discovered which were operating under the guise of Islam, and which were training and arming people to destabilize Mauritania. Those arrested were held incommunicado and some were believed to have been beaten in custody. All were pardoned by President Maaouiya Ould Taya and released after 10 of them apparently confessed to belonging to secret Islamist organizations, such as the Organisation du Jihad en Mauritanie, Mauritanian Organization for Jihad, whose aim was to set up an Islamic state. One criminal suspect died in custody. Ibrahima Diallo, a Senegalese national, was arrested and taken to a police commissariat in Nouakchott. He died on 13 June, apparently as a result of a fractured neck. No official investigation was reported to have been ordered to establish whether he died as a result of torture. In July Seydi Boulo Bâ, a black Mauritanian who had returned from Senegal, was arrested in Kaédi when he tried to gain entry to his home which had been appropriated by someone else. It was not possible to establish if he had been released by the end of the year. Amnesty International appealed for the unconditional release of Professor Kamara. Following the arrest of Islamist activists, Amnesty International urged the authorities to ensure that they were not tortured and that any held purely on account of non-violent religious or political activities were released immediately.

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