Brussels — The Representation of Frente POLISARIO to Europe has called upon the NGO amnesty international office in Brussels to urge the council and commission of the European Union to intervene to protect the safety of all Saharawi political prisoners held illegally in Moroccan jails, outlining that Beyond the immediate release of them, these prisoners need urgent protection from the COVID-19 virus.
In a letter addressed to the human rights NGO´s director in Brussels Eve Geddie, the frente POLISARIO writes "While the challenge in securing a just political settlement in Western Sahara remains difficult, there are steps that can be taken now to deter retribution against those most vulnerable to COVID-19. Moroccan authorities should be sent a clear and strong message that they cannot use the current health emergency to retaliate against political detainees and further curtail the rights and dignity of the Sahrawi people".
The statement mentions the urgent letter sent by the Saharawi President, Mr Brahim Gali last March 2020 to the UNSG on appalling situation afflicting the Sahrawi political prisoners held illegally in Morocco jails. Where the President warned that the "outbreak of this dangerous virus and the urgent measures required, in particular relating to avoiding large gatherings and overcrowding, totally contradicts the situation in which these civilian prisoners are held in overpopulated Moroccan prisons."
Several days later, on 27 March 2020, over 400 signatories wrote a letter addressed to UN Members States warning of the threat COVID-19 poses for the people of Western Sahara and calling for a UN Human Rights mechanism to urgently visit the detention facilities in which Sahrawis are being held and to call on Moroccan authorities to respect and protect their physical integrity.
The statement concludes "In response to the growing COVID-19 crisis in Morocco, the EU announced a €450mn aid package to help Morocco counter coronavirus. The Frente POLISARIO would never stand in the way of assistance to ease the suffering of civilian populations. However, this support from the EU must also be accompanied by clear demands to ensure that Moroccan authorities address the crisis comprehensively, and do not use it as an excuse to target political prisoners".SPS