Editor's note: Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery. This story is part of a CNN special report, “Slavery’s Last Stronghold.”
The European Union issued the following statement to CNN concerning slavery in Mauritania:
Slavery unfortunately still goes on in Mauritania. Despite a gradual change of mentality and a public willingness by the government to tackle the problem, this practice, which was made officially illegal [several times], still exists and is relatively widespread in the country. We make the fight against slavery a top priority in our dialogue with the Mauritanian authorities. We also support civil society organizations which are key in the fight against slavery. The EU is providing financial support to several projects to support human rights organizations in their fight against slavery. We also support legal and administrative measures taken to combat this scourge. Such practices are clearly out of place in any democratic society and must be immediately abolished not only in law but in practice. Complementary socio-economic measures are also part of the solution.