By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - A Mauritanian anti-slavery activist, Biram Dah Abeid, will be honored on Friday by the human rights group Front Line Defenders. Abeid, who is the head of a group called IRA Mauritania, was featured last year in the CNN documentary "Slavery's last stronghold." Mauritania, a desert country in West Africa, was the last country to abolish slavery; and an estimated 10% to 20% of its population lives in some form of slavery, according to Gulnara Shahinian, the UN's special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.
The Mauritanian government has denied slavery's existence in the country but does operate a program for formerly enslaved people.
Abeid was selected from 100 nominees in 40 countries, according to Front Line Defenders. The award, given to "human right defenders at risk," will be presented at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, and will be given by Irish President Michael Higgins.
"Biram Dah Abeid has been threatened, defamed and harassed because of his work defending human rights and against slavery in Mauritania," the group says in a press release. "He has been arrested and ill-treated on several occasions and in April 2012 he was 'disappeared' for several weeks into a secret, high-security government facility, without being able to contact his family and without any legal assistance. It is believed he would have been killed but for the international outcry. He was released in September 2012 but has chosen to continue his work inside Mauritania.
"Despite the constant harassment and threat of arrest Biram has sworn to continue the struggle until slavery is finally eliminated in Mauritania."
His 2012 detention followed a demonstration in which Abeid reportedly burned religious texts that condone slavery.
Front Line Defenders produced a YouTube video with more information about Dah Abeid's work in Mauritania.