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Saharawi Consultative Council calls on the UN HCHR to publish its report on Western Sahara




The Saharawi Consultative Council called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Harbour, to immediately publish the report elaborated by her organisation in 2006 on the Moroccan human rights violations in Western Sahara.

The Council, which met on Wednesday under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic, Mohamed Andelaziz, expressed deep concern about the serious human rights situation in the occupied zones of the last colony in Africa, Western Sahara.

In a letter addressed to Ms. Harbour, the Council drew her attention to the immediate need of protection the Saharawi population in the occupied zone are lacking, and asked for the UN’s body intervention.

Here is the complete text of the letter, of which UPES received a copy:

Ms Louise Arbour
High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

20 February 2008

Madame High Commissioner,

We would like to address to you this letter to express our deep concern about the deteriorating situation of human rights in the territories of Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

Sahrawi citizens in those territories are still subjected to beatings, torture, unfair trails, imprisonment, abduction and forced disappearances at the hands of Moroccan security forces. In particular, human rights activists are targeted and continue to suffer harassment, persecution and imprisonment. Moreover, the Moroccan occupying authorities have imposed a military siege and a total information blackout on the occupied territories in order to hide their appalling crimes from the scrutiny of the world.

The situation of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara is still a cause of concern to the United Nations and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has raised the issue in his reports regarding Western Sahara. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and a host of human rights organisations have also expressed their deep concern about the worsening of that situation.

As you are aware, the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco are engaged in direct negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. Although the Security Council has expressly called upon the parties, in its resolution 1783 (2007), to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue, the Moroccan authorities are still pursuing their repressive campaigns against Sahrawi citizens in the occupied territories. Obviously, this escalation can in no way contribute to creating the climate of trust needed for the success of the negotiations.

In this context, despite the repeated calls by the Sahrawi authorities and human rights organisations, we cannot understand why the report of the OHCHR mission to Western Sahara of 8 September 2006 has never been formally released and its recommendations have not been implemented.

As you are aware, the report underlined that the Sahrawis in the occupied territories are not only denied their right to self-determination but are also severely restricted from exercising a series of other rights that are of particular importance to the very right of self-determination such as the right to freely express themselves, to create associations defending their right to self-determination and to hold assemblies to make their views known.

The report also recommended closer monitoring of the human rights situation, and urgent measures to protect human rights and the implementation of the right to self-determination. The report concluded that the human rights crisis in Western Sahara is a direct result of the non-implementation of the right to self-determination.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world’ s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We are aware that the mandate entrusted to it by the international community is to promote and protect all human rights. In this context, we think that, by withholding the report, the OHCHR has chosen to take a step back and thus do nothing as regards the human rights violations in Western Sahara. This attitude is clearly compatible with the Office’ s declared mandate and mission.

We would like therefore to call on you, Madame High Commissioner, to ensure the immediate release of the report and that its recommendations are acted upon. For what is at stake is not only the truth about Morocco’ s gross violations of human rights, which should be revealed without delay, but also the protection of human rights in Western Sahara which your Office has been mandated by international community to promote and protect.

Please accept, Madame High Commissioner, our highest regards and best wishes.