CONASADH calls on ICRC to intervene for release of Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco

Bir Lehlou (Saharawi Republic) 31 May 2020 (SPS)– The Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights (CONASADH), called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to urgently intervene for the release of Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco, to protect them from possible Covid-19 infection.

In a letter sent to the President of the ICRC, Mr. Peter Maurer, CONASADH, expressed deep concern about the situation of the Saharawi prisoners under the bad conditions of Moroccan jails and the spread of Covid-19 in many Moroccan prisoners.

Here is the complete text of the letter sent by CONASADH to ICRC of which Saharawi.net received a copy:

Request of urgent intervention for the release of Saharawi political prisoners in various Moroccan jails

Dear President,

It is with deep concern that the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights (CONASADH) addresses you this letter hoping to draw your attention to the dangerous conditions in which Saharawi political prisoners are living in various Moroccan prisons, especially with the alarming spread of Covid-19 infections all over the world, including in Morocco.

The dire conditions of the Moroccan prisons and the alarming lack of the minimum hygienic environment necessary for the protection of prisoners is a permanent threat to the lives of political prisoners, whose only crimes, as evidenced by all international organization, are related to their political views and peaceful activities, as human rights defenders.

ICRC, which strives for the implementation of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols that form the core of international humanitarian law according to Article 5 of its Statutes, has received many letters and communications calling on it to visit these political prisoners and to work for their release.

ICRC also received communications calling for its initiative to persuade Morocco end its gross violations to the International Humanitarian law and International law of Human Rights against Saharawi civilians in the absence of any sort of international or UN’s mechanisms in charge of the monitoring, reporting and protection of human rights in Western Sahara, which remains under the responsibility of the UN as a Non-Self-Governing Territory pending a decolonization process.

CONASADH cannot understand why ICRC has never visited Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons so far. ICRC has, on the other hand always been highly welcomed by Saharawi authorities since the seventies to visit Moroccan prisoners of war until the last Moroccan prisoner was released back in 2005. Unfortunately, the ICRC has not been equally helpful to Saharawi victims of disappearance nor to Saharawi prisoners of war and political prisoners so far.

Mr. President,

The Moroccan regime of occupation arrested those Saharawi political prisoners simply because they were defending theirs and their people’s rights to self-determination and independence, which are recognized to them by the UN and other international and regional organizations and instruments. Worse, Morocco tried those civilians before its military courts in total violation of the minimum requirement for fair trials. They were also subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and they were transferred tried and imprisoned outside their occupied country, deported to Morocco where they are imprisoned far away from their families, in total violation of the relevant Geneva Conventions requirements.

Even there in Morocco, Saharawi political prisoners are suffering from Moroccan prisons’ lack of the standard minimum rules of incarceration though they are serving long imprisonment periods (between 20 to perpetuity). Most of the prisoners have severe health problems and also suffer from the consequences of torture.

Therefore, the spread of Covid-19 in Morocco, including in Moroccan prisons, is an additional threat to their lives and need an urgent intervention from ICRC and all relevant international organizations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, has already launched an appeal last March on all governments to release prisoners, especially political ones and those detained without sufficient legal basis, to prevent catastrophic rates of infection. We do know of no other prisoners detained illegally than Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco, whose trials were qualified of highly illegal by various international observers, including UN experts.

For all these reasons, Mr. President, CONASADH calls on you and on your organization to immediately and urgently intervene for the release of Saharawi political prisoners and to put an end, not only to their ordeals and possible threats to their lives, but also to a long continuing violation of the international humanitarian law in Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

Finally, please accept Mr. President, my highest considerations.” (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)