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Mauritania: Bribery and String-Pulling, Made in China

On July 29, 2012, Nouakchott residents woke up on the news of the attempt of three Chinese investors working in the fishing industry in Nouadhibou to bribe Mauritania General Director of Taxation El Moctar Ould Djay. But the bigger surprise was that the official had locked them in his office and called the police to come and arrest them.

His behavior has triggered the admiration of Mauritanian netizens, especially since it is the first time anyone has reported on bribery in the country's history.

On Alegcom, you can read a blog post entitled “An unprecedented event: Ould Djay refuses a bribery from Chinese and is chosen as 2012′ perfect employee” [ar]:

A photo of the Director of Taxation published by the page   وطني أولا  (My Country First) on Facebook.

A photo of the Director of Taxation published by the page   وطني أولا  (My Country First) on Facebook.

يُشرف مبادرة “ضحايا ضد الفساد” أن تعلن بأنها قد اختارت المدير العام للضرائب المختار ولد أجيه وللعلم وهو من مواليد مقاطعة مقطع لحجار كموظف مثالي للعام 2012 وذلك لأنه كان أول موظف حكومي يتقدم بدعوى ضد أشخاص حاولوا أن يقدموا له رشوة.
“Victims against corruption” initiative is pleased to announce that it has chosen the General Director of Taxation, El Moctar Ould Djay, as the perfect employee for the year 2012 and this for being the first public officer to file a suit against persons who tried to bribe him.

However, the Chinese investors stayed in jail for 24 hours only after which their embassy in Nouakchott intervened for their release.

The Facebook page My country First [ar] posted the above photograph, with the following comment:

تحية إعزاز للمدير العام للضرائب، فهكذا يكون الموظف الشريف
Hail to the General Director of Taxation, this is how an honest employee should be

Twitter users actively reacted to the news. Among them is Mejd, who notes [ar]:

mejdmr@: النيابة أمرت بتوقيف الصينيين الثلاثة، وفتحت تحقيقا معهم بتهمة الرشوة، لكن تدخل سفارتهم مكّن من إطلاق سراحهم في أقل من 24 ساعة
The Prosecution ordered the arrest of the three Chinese and initiated an investigation with them, charging them with the crime of bribery. But their embassy's interference led to their release in less than 24 hours.

He adds [ar]:

mejdmr@: كانت ردّة فعل المدير مفاجئة للمستثمرين الصينيين، فقد إتصل بالشرطة وإستدعاهم ليتم القبض علي الصينيين الثلاثة رفقة موريتاني كان معهم ‎
The reaction of the official surprised the Chinese investors. He called the police asking them to come and arrest the Chinese along with a Mauritanian who was accompanying them.

Mohamed Abdou points out [ar]:

medabdou@: نجى الراشون الصينيون من اي ملاحقة قضائية، يبقى من القصة فقط أن هذا أول مسئول حكومي حسب علمي يبلغ عن حادثة رشوة في #موريتانيا
The Chinese accused of bribing escaped any legal pursuit. What matters is, as far as I know, that he is the first civil servant as to report about a bribery case in Mauritania.

Abdel Fetah Habib asks [ar]:

afetah@:سمعنا أن الصينيين أطلق سراحهم لكن من قام بذلك؟ ومن تدخل؟ ولماذا تنازل المدعي عن دعواه بهذه السرعة؟ وهل حاولت الصحافة الاتصال به لأخذ تصريح؟
We heard that the Chinese were set free but by whom? Who interfered? Why did the plaintiff abandon his suit so quickly? Did the media try contacting him for a statement?

He pursues his inquires in another tweet [ar]:

afetah@: هل حاولت الصحافة أخذ رأي أحد القانونيين عن الحق العام في قضية الرشوة؟ لا أعتقد أن المسألة تتعلق فقط بهذا الشخص فهذه جريمة عامة تمس المجتمع
Did the media try to ask a jurist about the public interest in this bribery case? I don't think it is just about that person. It is a public crime against society.

Dedda Cheikh Brahim recalls [ar]:

@dedda04: قبل عام حجز مواطن ‎‫#موريتانيا‬‏ في الصين وتم تعذيبه خارج القانون ولم تتدخل سفارتنا بينما هنا يقدمون الرشاوي ويطلق سراحهم في أقل من 24 ساعة
A year ago, a Mauritanian citizen was detained in China and he was tortured and our embassy did nothing, while here they offer bribes and they are released in less than 24 hours.

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