A week in which two slave-owners were jailed and two leading anti-slavery activists were released from prison in Mauritania could mark a turning point in the West African nation's fight to eliminate the practice, campaigners said on Wednesday.
Two men were last week handed five-year prison sentences - one year to be served, four years suspended - and ordered to pay compensation to two victims in only the country's second ever prosecution for slavery since it was criminalised in 2007.
Prominent activists Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal, who had been in prison for 18 months after taking part in an anti-slavery march, were freed two days later by the Supreme Court.
The court reversed an appeals court judgement made in August which had upheld a two-year sentence for the two Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) leaders.
The two court judgements could signal the beginning of the end of slavery in Mauritania, according to Sarah Mathewson, Africa programme co-ordinator at Anti-Slavery International.
"This should empower people to come forward, access justice and seek compensation," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.