March 14th, 2012

CNN goes undercover in Mauritania

Two CNN Digital reporters recently traveled to Mauritania — a West African country that recently abolished slavery. The Mauritanian government denies the practice still exists, but the United Nations estimates 10% to 20% of Mauritanians live in slavery today. The crew wanted to investigate the situation as part of the Freedom Project, CNN’s effort to shine a light on modern-day slavery.

Reporters aren’t allowed to visit the country to report on slavery and a government minder was assigned to the CNN team to prevent them from talking about the issue.

Still, they found ways to discuss it. They did much of their work undercover and in secret, meeting abolitionists and escaped slaves in the middle of the night. When they traveled into the Sahara with the government minder, they made abrupt stops so that they could talk with slaves before the minder had realized they’d stopped on the side of the road.

CNN previewed the project at SXSW.  It will launch on on March 18, and CNN International will roll out Mauritania coverage later in the month.