Western Sahara: UN - Over 240 NGOs Demand Rapporteur On Human Rights in Sahrawi Occupied Territories

Geneva — Over 240 Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) composing the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara on Saturday advocated the creation of a mandate of special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sahrawi occupied territories.

In a communiqué released on the occasion of the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances celebrated on 30 August each year, 245 NGOs urged the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create "a mandate of special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Occupied Western Sahara."

They underlined the need to "very first Article of each of the four Geneva Conventions and to ensure that Morocco complies with the provisions of the said Convention under any circumstance in occupied Western Sahara," said the communiqué.

In this regard, the signatories called the International Red Crescent Committee (IRCC) to cooperate with the Polisario Front, the only legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, in its search for the missing Sahrawis.

The Geneva Group NOGs also urged the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) to schedule "the examination of Morocco's compliance with the Convention."

"On 14 May 2013, Morocco had ratified the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. However, the Kingdom of Morocco has still not submitted its initial report on this issue to the CED," recalled the NGOs.

Some hundreds of Sahrawis are missing, both militants and civilians, following the Moroccan military invasion of 1975 and Morocco's prolonged occupation of Western Sahara. Since October 31, 1975, the lowest estimates are around 1,000 cases, 80% of which occurred between 1975 and 1977, said the communiqué.

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