The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in the Palace of Nations

Joint statement: human rights violations in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara must end

News 20.10.2023

Right Livelihood, in partnership with the Instance Sahraouie contre l’Occupation Marocaine (ISACOM), delivered a joint statement at the 54th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, addressing the dire human rights situation in Western Sahara, a territory that has been under Moroccan occupation since 1975.

You can read the entire statement here. 

Morocco, as the occupying power, does not possess the legal authority to impose its laws upon Western Sahara or to assert it as part of its territory. Yet, we told the Council, Morocco continues to openly violate this principle.

We also drew attention to the fact that certain countries either remain silent or give their unspoken approval to Morocco’s human rights violations in Western Sahara. Failing to speak out against these abuses “is tantamount to supporting persistent human rights violations,” we told the Council.

The joint statement also highlighted the severe restrictions on human rights in Western Sahara. The Sahrawi people’s freedom of expression, right to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of assembly and association are consistently suppressed.

Repression by Moroccan authorities often turns violent, we added. Anyone advocating for the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination can be met with reprisals ranging from asset freezes to torture and arbitrary arrests.

These violations persist and even increase during visits by the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy for Western Sahara.

Right Livelihood and ISACOM also expressed concern about the treatment of Sahrawi prisoners, who, after facing unfair trials, are forced to serve lengthy sentences in deplorable prison conditions.

What’s worse, we told the Council, Morocco’s human rights violations occur with the knowledge and under the observation of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), a peacekeeping mission still lacks a human rights mandate.

It is unacceptable for a member of the Council to act with impunity and commit such grave violations, we concluded, urging member states to denounce Morocco’s actions and requesting the Council to consider an urgent debate on the situation in Western Sahara.

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