Amnesty International affirms urgency of human rights monitoring in Western Sahara

London, Apr 20, 2017 (SPS) - The non-governmental human rights organization Amnesty International called, Tuesday, the United Nation to “urgently” monitor human rights in Western Sahara in order to put an end to the” violations and impunity” of which the Sahrawi people is victim under the Moroccan occupation.

The NGO considers “urgent to prioritize human rights monitoring and to include in the Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), exhorting the Security Council to take it into account, in the vote next week, on April 27, to renew the mandate of its presence in the territories occupied by Morocco.

It noted, in the communiqué, that “enabling the MINURSO to monitor Human Rights in Western Sahara is crucial for ensuring that abuses committed far from the public eye are brought to the world’s attention, holding those responsible to account and improving respect for human rights.”

“The UN mission in Western Sahara is the world’s only modern peacekeeping operation without a human rights component. It’s been over a quarter of a century since it was established and it is high time to upgrade its status to enable it to report on such violations.”

Amnesty underlined that it has continued to document, over the past year, the human rights violations and “in particular arbitrary restrictions on peaceful protesters and activists supporting self-determination for Western Sahara.”

The statement also noted the violations of the rights of Sahrawis detained in Morocco, and “breaches to their right to a fair trial and to the prohibition on torture or other ill-treatment.”

In this regard, the organization also “follows the new civilian trial of 24 Sahrawis, including human rights and political activists, who had previously been sentenced to heavy prison terms following a grossly unfair military trial.”

The NGO regrets that the “MINURSO’s capacity was reduced last year after the Moroccan authorities expelled a number of its civilian personnel, including demining staff from the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in March 2016.”

“Instead of hampering MINURSO’s work, the Moroccan authorities should be fully cooperating with the mission to ensure they are able to carry out their duties at full capacity,” concluded the communiqué. SPS