19 February 2013

Western Sahara: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Criticizes Local Justice

Geneva — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday has criticized the Moroccan justice on the conditions that surrounded the trial held by the military court in Rabat against the Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik.

In his briefing, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was "concerned about the use of the Moroccan authorities to a military court to judge and condemn the 25 Saharawi civilians"

In this regard, he recalled that, as pointed out by the Committee on Human Rights of the UN to oversee the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by member states, "the use of military courts for civilians raises serious concerns about the fairness, impartiality and independence of the justice system."

Mr. Colville told reporters in Geneva that the agency was also concerned by reports that most of the accused said they were tortured or ill-treated during their pre-trial detention, but no investigations have been made following these allegations.

"This was a very serious event, involving substantial loss of life, and it is important that justice is done, but it is also important that the judicial processes scrupulously abide by international fair trial standards," he stated.

It should be recalled that the military court in Rabat sentenced last Sunday, nine defendants Saharawi life imprisonment, four to 30 years in prison, eight to 25 years, two to 20 years' imprisonment and two other defendants for the duration of preventive detention, which lasted 27 months.

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