Front Line is seriously concerned following reports that human rights defender, Mr Boubacar Messaoud, was severely beaten by police officers during a demonstration on 2 April 2009 in Nouakchott. Boubacar Messaoud is the President of the Association SOS Esclaves (Slaves Association SOS) and a member of the Commission Nationale des Droits de l'Homme – CNDH (National Human Rights Commission).
On 2 April, Boubacar Messaoud was participating as an observer to the demonstration organised by the Coordination des Forces Démocratiques – CFD (Coordination of Democratic Forces) in the context of the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Niamey, Niger, at the end of March. It is reported that the riot police tried to disperse the demonstrators using excessive force, including tear gas, and clashes between protesters and the police ensued. Several protesters have been severely injured as a result. While far from the main cortege, on a side street, Boubacar Messaoud was reportedly singled out and targeted by police superintendent Ould Nejib, who alerted the three colleagues accompanying him.