UN concerned about human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara

New York, April 12,  2017 (SPS) - in 2016, Morocco has prevented UN human rights monitoring missions from visiting occupied territories in Western Sahara, said the UN Tuesday, expressing concern about torture and degrading inhuman treatment inflicted to the Sahrawi people.

In its preliminary report on Western Sahara, of which a copy was released Tuesday by the US press in New York, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that during the period covered by the aforementioned report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) could not dispatch a monitoring mission in the Sahrawi territories.

In 2016, the Moroccan government opposed to the visit of a follow-up mission of the UN Special rapporteur on torture under the pretext that it was cancelled after it was scheduled for April 2015.

The last OHCHR mission in Dakhla and Laayoune dates back to April 2015.

Until 27 February 2017, Moroccan territories have not set up prevention mechanisms allowing the inspection of detention places as provided by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, stated the report which will be soon negotiated at the Security Council.

The Sahrawi people continue to be discriminated in the exercise of their economic, cultural and social rights, noted Guterres, recalling that the observations made by the UN human rights committee on the failure of the UN to take the necessary measures allowing the consultation of the Sahrawi on the exploitation of their natural resources.

Besides, the UN SG stated that "making the role of the Minurso (UN Mission for the Organization of the Referendum in Western Sahara) more performant," including "independent reporting" of the situation in Sahrawi territories, "remains crucial to meet the expectations of the UN Security Council."    

Besides, the UN SG said the mission should resume its full role with the return of 17 UN employees expelled by Morocco, which so far have not been able to join their posts in the occupied territories.

Guterres called on the Security Council to extend the Minurso mandate until April 2018 and strengthen it with a medical staff from Bangladesh. SPS