Friday, February 20, 2015

RFK Report on the Human rights situation in Western Sahara : 2014-2015

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights New Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Report Highlights Abuses against Sahrawi People in Western Sahara (February 19, 2015 | Washington, D.C.) Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Santiago A. Canton, Executive Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, announced the release of a periodic report that tracks human rights violations that took place in Western Sahara between March and December 2014. Reports from Western Sahara reveal that Moroccan authorities are continuing to commit serious human rights violations against the Sahrawi people. In spite of the reports of systematic violations of human rights by Morocco against the Sahrawis, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) lacks a mandate to monitor human rights in the region and there is no international mechanism dedicated to tracking human rights in Western Sahara. The UN will once again discuss the renewal of the MINURSO’s mandate in April, providing an opportunity to bring MINURSO’s mandate into alignment with other peacekeeping missions by including human rights monitoring and reporting as part of its mission. “Allegations of egregious human rights violations taking place in Western Sahara demand international attention and require serious investigation and remedy. The UN should expand MINURSO’s mandate,” said Kerry Kennedy. "Reports of torture in detention, medical negligence towards ailing prisoners, unmonitored landmine blasts, forcible dispersal of peaceful protests, and constraints on entry and travel within the region cannot be left unaddressed.” In addition, during the time period covered by this report, an anonymous individual began releasing hundreds of Moroccan diplomatic cables via Twitter. The leaked cables show Morocco engaging in improper activity at the United Nations with the apparent aim of preventing the expansion of MINURSO’s mandate to include human rights monitoring. The UN has said that it is conducting an investigation into the matter. “The information presented in the cables is serious and demands serious attention. The ongoing UN investigation must examine the question of whether questionable actions taken by Morocco and UN staff prevented the expansion of the mandate,” continued Kerry Kennedy. In the period of time covered by this report, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights identified nearly 90 separate instances of human rights violations, many involving multiple victims. Most abuses are violations of the right to arbitrary arrest, the right to freedom of assembly, and the right to freedom of movement. There are instances, however, of physical mistreatment and torture, landmine injuries and death, and death while in detention. Taken as a whole, the frequency and nature of the abuses paints a grim picture of the human rights situation in Western Sahara. “The reported human rights violations committed against the Sahrawi people constitute severe violations of international law and international human rights law,” said Santiago A. Canton. “While international law does not recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, as the de facto power—and as a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights—Morocco must ensure that the human rights of the people living in Western Sahara are respected as mandated by the law.” The report is attached below. ### MEDIA CONTACT Daniel Cronin Phone: 917-284-6356 Email:

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