Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Mauritania: Anti-Terror Law Rejected by Constitutional Council

(Mar. 8, 2010) On March 4, 2010, following an appeal by 32 Members of the National Assembly, the Constitutional Council of Mauritania rejected the country's new law on terrorism, calling a number of the articles unconstitutional. The law, which was adopted by the legislature on January 5 of this year, had permitted preventive detention, phone-tapping, and night searches of the residences of suspected terrorists. The Council's objections applied to about ten of the 53 articles of the law, which will not be promulgated. (Constitutional Council Rejects Anti-Terrorism Law, AFP, Mar. 4, 2010, World News Connection online subscription database, Doc. No. 201003041477.1_46cf00297a42eb25; Mauritanian Constitutional Council Rejects New Anti-Terrorism Law, AGENCE DE PRESSE AFRICAINE, Mar. 4, 2010, available at

The terrorism law had been adopted in response to increased attacks, including kidnappings of Europeans in the country. The actions have been attributed to the organization Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an offshoot of a former Algerian militant group now operating in Algeria, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, as well as Mauritania. (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Anti-Defamation League website, (last visited Mar. 5, 2010).) Three Spanish aid workers kidnapped in November 2009 and two tourists from Italy taken the next month are still being held hostage in northern Mali, a country that borders Mauritania to the east. (AFP, supra.) In another case, following negotiations with France, on February 23, 2010, AQIM released a French citizen it had kidnapped in Mauritania and in held in Mali for several months. The release was part of a negotiated exchange in which Mali released four militants as requested by AQIM. (Al-Qaeda Frees Frenchman Kidnapped in Mauritania: Negotiator, AFP, Feb. 24, 2010, available at

Mauritania has a bicameral legislature consisting of the Majlis al-Shuyukh, or Senate, with 56 Members, and the Majlis al-Watani, or National Assembly, with 95 Members. The Constitutional Council, in addition to other responsibilities, reviews some laws before promulgation, including any submitted to it by one-third of the Members of either house of the legislature. (Arts. 46 & 86, Constitution of Mauritania, International Constitutional Law website, July 12, 1991, available at; Mauritania, CIA WORLD FACTBOOK, Feb. 4, 2010, available at