Washington — The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) has released a report, in which it expressed dissatisfaction at the relentless human rights violations against the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara, indicating that the international community "has the responsibility to protect the Sahrawis from these systematic violations."
In a new report released Thursday in Washington, RFK Center said that Moroccan government "continues to violate the rights to life, personal integrity, freedom of expression, assembly and due process of the Sahrawi people."
"The situation requires not only a permanent presence by the United Nations, but a clear human rights mandate to ensure that such abuses do not continue and to send a clear message that the global community will not tolerate these violations," said RFK Partners for Human Rights Director Santiago A. Canton.
The U.S. Center has expressed regret for the fact that the UN Security Council "renewed the mandate of the UN mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) without adding a human rights monitoring component, despite recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and several civil society organizations including the RFK Center, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch."
The report went on adding that since the renewal of the MINURSO mandate last April, there have been repeated and ongoing incidents of abuse of Sahrawi protestors in Western Sahara without an effective response by the international community.
It, in this sense, reported that as of August 2013, there were 59 Sahrawi political prisoners currently in jail, 17 of whom were human rights defenders.
"Political prisoners suffer deplorable conditions while incarcerated, as do all inmates in Moroccan prisons-particularly in Ait Melloul prison in southern Morocco. Since April 2013, four Sahrawi common law prisoners have died in Ait Melloul due to poor conditions, maltreatment and a lack of medical care: Mohammed Borhimi, May 7; Abdelmalek Abdessamed, May 17; Hicham Lasfar, June 19; and most recently, Ambarak Almotawakil, August 2. While in custody at Ait Melloul, Sahrawi political prisoner Issa Bouda began a hunger strike on August 27, which continues to this day, to protest inhuman treatment within the Moroccan prison system," stated the report.
In the month of August alone, said the RFK Center, Moroccan authorities violently dispersed several Sahrawi protests. In addition, Sahrawi human rights defenders continue to be subject to surveillance and intimidation.
The report pointed out that on September 17, 2013, the European Parliament will vote to approve a report on human rights in Western Sahara written by Special Rapporteur of the European Parliament for Human Rights in Sahel Region and Western Sahara Dr. Charles Tannock.
This past February, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez also noted these patterns of continual violations.
Concerning Morocco's obligations, RFK Center underlined that Morocco has signed and ratified several international human rights treaties, including: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD); International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED); and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
It, in this respect, said that despite these international obligations, Moroccan Government still continues to violate the Saharawis' rights without an effective response from the international community.
It, therefore, called for creating and implementing an independent human rights mechanism to protect the rights of the Saharawis and to hold Morocco to its international obligations.