Violations of Human Rights in Western Sahara

Sights have been centered, since a very long time, on the regime of Morocco by the organisations dealing with Human Rights. - Firstly because of its reign of terror resulting in "disappearancesţ" (Amnesty International :┤Breakdown the wall of silence, The Disappearances in Morocco¬, April 1993) - Secondly because of the imprisonment on the basis of political or philosophical convictions (Amnesty International: ┤Political Prisoners¬, December 1993; ┤The System of political imprisonment must cease¬, May 1994).

THE DISAPPEARANCES
Since the beginning of the 1960's, the Moroccan government has used the system of ┤disappearances¬ by putting into secret custody all persons taking part in political opposition.
During the almost 20 years of occupation of Western Sahara, the Moroccan regime has arrested more than 1,000 Sahrawi's who disappeared. Nobody since had any news whatsoever about these people. The Moroccan government has always denied these practices until 1991, when he liberated around 270 persons who had disappeared. Once free they just changed their little prison for a larger one. They have been forbidden, under threat of being put again into secret custody, to mention anything at all about what had happened in those prisons and they are in no way to talk to journalists or foreigners. Only those who had managed to flee abroad were able to lift the veil of what had happened.
In order to put an end to these disappearances, a group of families and friends of the vanished Sahrawi's have created in Spain the AFAPREDESA organization. AFAPREDESA have carried out, for many years, a campaign of adoption for the benifit of the ┤Missing Sahrawi's¬. During the meeting of the European Coordination for Support to the Sahrawi People, held in Rome in November 1993, it was decided to continue the carrying out of this campaign from Geneva.
The aim is to adopt the greatest number of the missing Sahrawi's, that means, that every month, a certain number of authorites are asked to bring light on the outcome of the adopted persons. Each European country has responded to this campaign (see addresses below). Each month the chosen authorities have been interrogated from different parts on the condition of hundreds of disappeared Sahrawi's.

THE DESTINY OF THE SAHRAWI PRISONERS IN THE MOROCCAN PRISONS
Since the beginning of the Moroccan occupation, many Sahrawis have been arrested and put into prison for the only reason that they support the Polisario Front. Local laws and the International Conventions for Human Rights are not respected to by the Moroccan authorities in Western Sahara.
The term of being put under remand has not been respected; instead of putting these people under arrest for a maximum of one week, they are, more often, held for several months.
After being tortured, these prisoners finally admit deeds they have not committed. With these confessions, they are brought before a tribunal and receive sentences of ten years imprisonment or more. Lack of health care, the overpopulation of the prisons, too little nourishment of bad quality are a few types of treatment the Sahrawi prisoners receive.
Neither the actions of international protests nor the lobbywork by national and European parliaments have given any results at all to prevent such actions or to improve the treatment of these political prisoners.
Amnesty International brought about a slight improvement in the situation in Morocco itself, but as to the violation of Human Rights in Western Sahara, the organisation is very firm in its statement: There is no noticable change of attitude. The disappearances continue, there are always new cases denounced, the arrest of political prisoners is still beeing carried out and their poor treatment goes on and on.

(from ┤Western Sahara¬, publ. by OXFAM Belgium and Comite belge de soutien au peuple sahraoui. 1995)

Western Sahara Homepage, Summ. Human Rights