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New report: Western Sahara activists in arbitrary detention
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Former President-Rapporteur, United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, expresses deep concern after observing the court case against 24 human rights activists from the occupied parts of Western Sahara. 19 of the 24 Saharawis remain in jail.
Published: 25.09 - 2017 16:48Printer version    
A new report documents the Kafkaesque legal rocess against a group of political activists from Western Sahara, known as the Gdeim Izik Group. The men were on the 19th of July condemned to harsh sentences in the absence of material evidence. The report concludes that the 19 detainees are, and have for almost seven years, been imprisoned on arbitrary detention.

The UN Committee on Arbitrary detention visited the group in 2013, under the leadership of Mads Andenæs, law professor at the University of Oslo, and former head of the UN Committee on Arbitrary detention. Professor Mads Andenæs observed the Gdeim Izik trial on the 18th and the 19th of July, and has written the foreword to the report.

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International observer Tone Sørfonn Moe and prof. Mads Andenæs, Casablanca, 18 July 2017.
Professor Andenæs expresses deep concern after observing the court case against 24 human rights activists from the occupied parts of Western Sahara. 19 of the 24 Saharawis remain in jail to this date.

“The current report documents serious violations of international law on torture and fair trial", Mr. Andenæs states in foreword to the report.

"The breach of the international law on the right to a fair trial in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of Morocco’s other international obligations renders the deprivation of liberty of the 19 detainees arbitrary. The 19 detainees were subjected to abductions or arrest involving torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Their unlawful treatment has continued during their detention. The group has been detained for some seven years. Their conviction was not based on sufficient criminal material evidence,” Andenæs writes.

Download the report here.

The report is written by international observer Tone Sørfonn Moe who followed all steps of the legal process against the activists from December 2016 until today. It documents serious breaches of international norms:

  • The group was subjected to political persecution due to their activism for self-determination for the Saharawi people.
  • The breaches the right to a fair trial is of such gravity that the deprivation of liberty must be qualified as arbitrary.
  • The 19 detainees were subjected to abductions or arrest not respecting their most basic human rights, involving torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Morocco is in violation of multiple articles listed in the Torture Convention Torture.
  • The group was condemned in the absence of criminal material evidence. The main evidence against the group is confessions extracted under torture, in direct violation of art. 15 of the Torture Convention.

    The report recommends that the international community intervene to ensure justice for this group of political activists from Western Sahara.

    In a new development last week, the Moroccan government seemingly tries to complicate the UN sub-committee on torture from visiting the group of political prisoners. The UN body is to visit Moroccan jails in October.

    Early in the morning on the 16th of September; 18 of the 19 detainees of the Gdeim Izik Group were arbitrarily transferred from El Arjat prison to six different prison institutions throughout Morocco, without any prior notice.

    “The Moroccan government seemingly tries to complicate the UN sub-committee on torture from visiting the group of political prisoners. The UN body is to visit Moroccan jails in October. It is urgent that the UN sub committee on torture visits the 19 detainees, and ensures that Morocco honors its international commitments”, Ms. Moe stated regarding the new development.

    Demonstrations were held in cities of Western Sahara on the 21th of September, and demonstrators were attacked by the Moroccan police and army.
  •     
    News:

    27.11 - 2017 / 27.11 - 2017Alarming development for the Gdeim Izik prisoners
    25.09 - 2017 / 25.09 - 2017New report: Western Sahara activists in arbitrary detention
    18.05 - 2017 / 18.05 - 2017Chaos in Gdeim Izik trial continues
    29.03 - 2017 / 29.03 - 2017Gdeim Izik trial on pause, to recommence on 8 May
    17.03 - 2017 / 17.03 - 2017Follow the Gdeim Izik trial, day by day
    19.02 - 2017 / 19.02 - 2017See report on the January 2017 round of Gdeim Izik trial
    29.01 - 2017 / 27.01 - 2017Still no decision on Kafkaesque court case against Saharawi activists
    26.01 - 2017 / 23.01 - 201757 foreigners expelled from Western Sahara last five days
    25.01 - 2017 / 25.01 - 2017Norwegians expelled from Morocco
    01.09 - 2016 / 01.09 - 2016Join Amnesty campaign for the Saharawi prisoners
    27.08 - 2016 / 27.08 - 2016Kosmos Energy misinforms about Western Sahara and OECD
    07.06 - 2016 / 07.06 - 2016New report on need for referendum in Western Sahara
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    25.03 - 2016 / 25.03 - 2016Norwegian investor excluded Total due to Western Sahara involvement
    18.03 - 2016 / 18.03 - 2016European Democrat Students ask for self-determination for Saharawis
    12.03 - 2016 / 12.03 - 2016UN torture rapporteur welcome, but not
    11.03 - 2016 / 11.03 - 2016Ex UN rapporteur deplores HR situation in Western Sahara jails
    05.03 - 2016 / 05.03 - 2016Norwegian pension fund blacklists San Leon over Western Sahara
    15.02 - 2016 / 15.02 - 2016Hunger striking to demand education
    04.02 - 2016 / 04.02 - 2016All Norway's youth parties gathered for referendum in Western Sahara






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    Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.

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