Mohamed B. is from Sierra Leone. He moved to Mauritania at the end of 2017. He is 20 years old and faced a police check. He was arrested and placed in custody for lack of proper documentation. He spent one week there.
The nights were horrible, we had nothing. I slept on the bare floor.
MY NAME IS MOHAMED. I was born in 1999 in Koidu, Kono district, located in the east of Sierra Leone. I came to Mauritania to study in a Koranic school in Nouakchott.
During a regular police identity check in January 2019, I was arrested. Until May, I had neither a residence permit nor a proof of application for asylum. This document was issued to me in May for a period of three months. I was arrested at about 2pm, close to the mosque where I study the Koran. I was with Ismail, my 15-year-old younger brother, and another friend from Sierra Leone. My cousin Mokhtar was notified by a friend who witnessed the scene. I was taken to a police station at Dar Naïm or Bouhdida neighbourhood, I’m not sure which it was any more.
I spent one week at this police station. They offered me no food. My cousin brought me some food when he could. He is poor, he did what he could.
From time to time, I got some fresh air, but not every day. I could not wash myself during this period. I only had access to the toilet once a day. Prayer was allowed but I was forbidden to do my ablutions with water. My cousin got me a small stone that replaced the ablutions so that I could carry out my religious duties. The nights were horrible, we had nothing. I slept on the bare floor. There were lots of mosquitoes and we had no nets. The police kept asking me for documents I did not have. I was not ill-treated but they did hit my little brother.
The police spoke hassaniya. I only speak krio, so I could not understand them. I did not speak to a lawyer and none was offered to me.
No medical check was carried out. Nothing about procedures or my rights was explained to me. They just wanted my documents. After a week, my cousin negotiated with the police. And I was released. He probably gave them money.