Sahara Press Service (El Aaiun)

29 August 2012

Morocco: Delegation of Robert Kennedy Center Arrives to Sahrawi Refugee Camps

Photo: US Mission/Rome Humanitarian Attaché
Saharawi refugees in Algeria.

Shahid Al Hafed (refugee Camps) — The Delegation of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights arrived on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday to the Sahrawi refugee camps for a one day visit to assess the situation of Sahrawi refugees forced to flee from their homeland since 1975 because of Moroccan military invasion to Western Sahara.

The delegation led by Ms. Kerry Kennedy accompanied by seven people, officials in the Foundation or representatives of other associations: "Front Line Defenders", "Foundation

Members of the delegation include: Mary Lawlor, Director, Front Line Defenders; Margarette May Macaulay, Judge of the Inter American Court of Human Rights; Eric Sottas, former Secretary-General, World Organization Against Torture; Maria del Río, Board of Trustees of the Jose Saramago Foundation; and Marialina Marcucci, President of the RFK Center - Europe. RFK Partners for Human Rights Director Santiago A. Canton, Advocacy Director Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, and Advocacy Associate Stephanie Postar will accompany the delegation.

The delegation «will hold conversations with representatives of civil society, association, members of the Saharawi political leadership, and the President of the Republic, according to the program of the visit reached SPS.

Before visiting the Sahrawi refugee camps, the U.S. delegation was arrived last Friday in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, where it had a series of interviews with representatives of associations of Sahrawi human rights.

The interviews took place at the home of activist Human Rights, Ms. Aminatou Haidar, El Aaiun (occupied capital of Western Sahara) focused on the humanitarian situation of the Sahrawi population and violations of human rights, abuses committed by the Moroccan occupying forces.

Thus, the delegation met with, among others, members of the Saharawi Committee for defending the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. The talks between the two sides focused on "serious" violations of human rights which is subject the Saharawi people.

The members of the delegation also met with representatives of the Support Committee for UN settlement plan and protection of natural resources of Western Sahara, who reiterated their call on this occasion to the protection of resources of Western Sahara from illegal exploitation by the Moroccan occupation.

In addition, the delegation met with the head of the section of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights in El Aaiun and the Saharawi collective of human rights Defenders (CODESA).

The arrival of Mrs. Kennedy in El Aaiun was marked by a "black out" and total "impressive device" characterized by "massive presence of officers in plainclothes of Moroccan intelligence".

It has also been an eyewitness to the police aggression against the human rights activist, former political prisoner, Soukeina Jeddehlou, who participated in a peaceful demonstration denouncing the gross violations of human rights in Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

Kennedy has declared that the delegation " will seek to assess the human rights situation on the ground by speaking to human rights defenders, government authorities, and ordinary families split apart by this conflict," said Kerry Kennedy.

"We hope to raise attention to this issue and support the establishment of a human rights mandate for the UN Mission." She added.(SPS)

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