Human rights in Western Sahara: UN must assume its responsibilities

Washington, May 24, 2016 (SPS) - The US NGO Defense Forum Foundation said Monday in Washington that the UN is "responsible for this ongoing tragic situation” of human rights in Western Sahara, warning against the threats against NGOs and the independent observers in the Sahrawi occupied territories.

The last resolution of the Security Council on Western Sahara "makes the UN responsible for this ongoing tragic situation.  It is a terrible decision and a huge failure of the UN not to add human rights monitoring to MINURSO,” Suzanne Scholte, president of Defense Forum Foundation told to APS.

"This (situation) is just unacceptable and an abdication of the UN's responsibility as it means that MINURSO remains the only peacekeeping mission without a human rights component in charge of human rights monitoring," she added.

"The people of Western Sahara will continue to be subjected to significant human rights violations including arbitrary detention and torture,” said Scholte, adding that independent observers, including those who advocate for human rights, will have difficulty monitoring the ongoing abuse of the Sahrawi people.

Suzanne Scholte expressed concerns over the harassment and threat against these observers who are often prevented from investigating the abuses committed by the Moroccan authorities.

"Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the World Organization Against Torture, Reporters without Borders, the RFK Center for Human Rights and the U.S. State Department have all documented ongoing violence against the Sahrawis in Moroccan occupied Western Sahara," unveiled Sholte.

Speaking about the "negative role of France which made great pressure to prevent the extension of the mandate of MINURSO to monitor human rights," she said that this country "is giving free reign to Morocco to deny liberty, equality and fraternity to the Sahrawi people.”

It means that France "no longer stands for those high ideals."

"The implications for the Sahrawi living under Moroccan occupation mean they will continue to suffer human rights abuses including torture, detention and the denial of their rights to freedom of expression because of France's role in this," president of Defense Forum Foundation warned.

"This failure by the UN Security Council sends a terrible message to the world," which is that the use of peaceful means is not the suitable solution for conflict settlement.

"This is a particularly terrible message to send to the Sahrawis," who fight for their independence and their right to self-determination, the human rights defender concluded. SPS

 

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