Senegal, Mauritania deny discrimination accusations

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The head of the Senegalese delegation to the UN world conference on racism, Aminata Tall, denied in Durban Wednesday accusations of an NGO forum report whereby "the griot caste is subjected to discrimination in Senegal".
Her Mauritanian counterpart, whose country is also cited by the NGOs as among those involved in the "trafficking of human beings and forced labour (slavery)," was also outraged by the fact that the Durban conference could be transformed to this point into a "a fair of accusations".
Clarifying Senegal's situation, Tall, who "commended NGOs for their role in the fight against racism", pointed out that "it is absolutely false to say that griots are victims of any form of discrimination in our society".
On the contrary, she said, "griots are considered in Senegal as the custodians of the constitution and the living memory of family traditions".
For his part, the Mauritanian representative recalled that in 1984 the human rights committee had concluded that these allegations of human trafficking and forced labour which is still levied against his country, were in fact unfounded".
Mauritania "is an open, transparent and democratic country, which established a pluralistic democracy based on the respect of human rights", he said.
"Our government has also deployed considerable efforts to accelerate development by insisting on the protection and participation of vulnerable groups", he added.

06 september 2001 20:26:00

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