A Mauritanian court on Thursday rejected an appeal by the country's leading anti-slavery activist to be released from jail, upholding a two-year sentence which was passed in January.
The Mauritanian government has strived to criminalize slavery and last week passed a law making it a crime against humanity and doubling prison terms for offenders. But campaigners say it will not be enough to stop the practice, which affects between 4 to 20 percent of the population.
Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, a former presidential candidate and an award-winning activist, is appealing a two-year prison sentence.
The court's president said that in the absence of new defense testimony it would uphold the earlier sentences.
The former presidential candidate, was arrested in November during a peaceful anti-slavery march. He was sentenced for inciting trouble and belonging to an unrecognized organization.