GENEVA, Switzerland, May 9, 2018--A group of UN human rights experts* have expressed grave concerns about the continued detention of Mauritanian blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed M\u2019kheitir on charges which violated his human rights.\r\n\r\nMr. M'kheitir remains in detention, despite being eligible for release on time-served, at an unofficial location reportedly due to concerns for his safety. There are concerns that his conditions of detention have seriously affected his health.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have been repeatedly in contact with the Government of Mauritania and are calling on them to release him from arbitrary detention and ensure his safety,\u201d the experts said. \u201cIt is a matter of grave concern that this young man has now been in detention for four years.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe charges against him and the previous death sentence for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of conscience and expression clearly contravene international human rights law and the international conventions ratified by Mauritania.\u201d\r\n\r\nMr. M\u2019kheitir was arrested on 2 January 2014 and sentenced to death for apostasy in December 2014 after publishing an article online questioning the use of religious justification to legitimise caste discrimination. On 9 November 2017, the Court of Appeals in Nouadhibou quashed his death sentence and commuted it to two years in prison and a fine for blasphemy, rendering him eligible for immediate release on time served. The following day the Prosecutor General appealed the ruling.\r\n\r\n\u201cFollowing the Prosecutor\u2019s appeal against the Appeal Court\u2019s decision, it is not clear whether or when the case will be considered by the Supreme Court. In any case, we urge that the Mauritanian government comply without delay with the finding of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,\u201d the experts added.\r\n\r\nIt is incompatible with international human rights law to criminalise apostasy. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an Opinion in April in 2017 calling for Mr. M\u2019kheitir\u2019s immediate release and stating his right to seek compensation.\r\n\r\nThe experts concerns are heightened by the recent amendment of article 306 of the Penal code that reportedly mandates the death penalty for Muslims considered guilty of apostasy.\r\n\r\nThe experts have written to the Mauritanian Government about the case, received responses to their letters and are waiting for the government to take further action.