(September 28, 2016 | Washington, D.C.) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, in partnership with several other non-governmental organizations and academics, has submitted an alternative report to United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) to consider regarding Western Sahara as it reviews the Kingdom of Morocco’s human rights record. The report includes detailed recommendations that Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights urges the HRC to adopt.
The submission presented by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and its partners reiterates that Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara is illegal under international law, and presents information and analysis as to how Morocco’s presence and actions violate the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. The submission also addresses Morocco’s continued violations of the rights of the Sahrawi people to access and use their natural resources; to life and to be free from arbitrary detention; to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and to humane treatment of persons deprived of their liberty; to freedom of movement; to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial; to privacy; to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; and to freedom of association.
“Morocco continues to routinely—and at times violently—violate the rights of the Sahrawi people,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Reports of violent protest dispersals, horrific anecdotes of arbitrary detention and torture in prison, and the complete failure to respect the right of self-determination cannot remain unaddressed by Moroccan authorities and the international community. The UN Human Rights Committee must hold Morocco to account for these violations.”
As a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Morocco has a binding legal obligation to respect and ensure the Covenant rights in all areas where it exercises control, which includes the part of Western Sahara that Morocco occupies. The HRC regularly reviews State party implementation of the ICCPR and addresses issues of concern and recommendations to the government.
“The Human Rights Committee last reviewed Morocco in 2004,” said David McKean, Program Officer for RFK Partners for Human Rights. “Since that time there has been no progress on implementing the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, and systematic human rights abuses of all kinds continue to take place. The Committee’s recommendations must reflect this bitter reality.”
The report was prepared in collaboration with the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and was jointly submitted by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights Committed by the State of Morocco (ASVDH), The Association of Families of Prisoners and Disappeared Sahrawis (AFAPREDESA), the Fondation Danielle Mitterrand/France Libertés, the Bureau des Droits de l’Homme au Sahara Occidental (BIRDHSO), the French Association of Friendship and Solidarity with African Peoples (AFASPA), and Adala UK. The HRC is expected to issue Concluding Observations and Recommendations regarding Morocco after it concludes its review session, scheduled for October 24 – 25, 2016.