Adala UK: Morocco must allow international observers to enter Western Sahara

London, Dec 24, 2016 (SPS) - Two lawyers, José Revert Calabuig and Nieves Cubas Armas, representatives of the General Council of the Spanish Legal Profession who had planned to visit, as international observers, the trial on 21 December of Saharawi activist Ali Saadouni and his fellow activists in El Aaiún. They were expelled from the capital of Occupied Western Sahara at midday on 20 December, sent by plane back to Gran Canaria.

“They expelled us without any explanation and they didn’t even let us ask any questions. They told me to go with them and they took me back to the departure lounge and put me on the plane”, Nieves Cubas told us. “It’s a gross violation of the entitlement to legal representation. We were there to give a voice to the Saharawis. We know that the territory of Western Sahara still needs to be decolonised”, she added.

Hundreds of international activists, journalists and observers have tried to enter the Occupied Territories, arriving on flights to occupied El Aaiún. They have come in response to the calls by Saharawi groups and NGOs who want to bring about an end to the block placed on the region by Morocco which is preventing people’s participation in activities of non-violent resistance against the Moroccan occupation.

Morocco has repeatedly claimed that “the visitors are pro-Saharawi radicals”, accusing them of wanting to disturb public order. Members of Adala UK in the Occupied Territories confirm that 89 people have been denied entry to the region so far this year. Other European activists who attempted to enter the Occupied Territories were turned away and taken to other Moroccan cities.

José Revert Calabuig told us: “the reason behind our expulsion is that the Moroccan authorities do not want us to record what happens in the trials that take place against the Saharawis – that’s all we are here to do.”

The world, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, have seen the grave human rights violations which take place in the Occupied Territories against the Saharawis, above all in response to peaceful protests which seek the self-determination of the Saharawi people and the resulting daily arbitrary detention of civilians. The inaction of the international community in the face of this cruelty is shameful. As there is no recrimination for these acts, the Moroccan government continues to commit these human rights violations on a mass scale. Whilst they deny these violations take place, they also prevent international observers from coming into the Occupied Territories to observe what is happening on a daily basis.

If the Moroccan government has nothing to hide it must allow international observers, including human rights monitors, to enter the Occupied Territories. This is part of their obligations under the international covenants and treaties which they have signed.

Adala UK condemns the block the Moroccan government has put on the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara in terms of international observation. We urge the UN to live up to its promises and ensure that this block is lifted immediately. (SPS)