Western Sahara: Human Rights Abuses Persist in Wake of November Unrest

In November 2010, Moroccan security forces descended on Gdaim Izik camp where thousands of displaced Sahrawi people were protesting the horrendous living conditions in Western Sahara. The violent clash killed at least 11 people and led to a series of retaliatory attacks by Moroccan security forces and civilians alike, some even going so far as to block wounded Sahrawis from seeking medical treatment.

Shortly following the brutal attacks, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organized a delegation trip to Western Sahara to convene with local government officials, representatives of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), victims and their families, and local human rights defenders, including RFK Human Rights Award laureate Aminatou Haidar.

This report is based on the observations of that trip and centers the stories of individuals most directly impacted by the violence of the November attacks and the ongoing human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan government in violation of national and international law.

Among our recommendations in the report, we highlight the urgent need for a continuing, neutral international presence to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara with a mechanism to ensure accountability by state actors. Furthermore, the capacity of human rights organizations must be strengthened, beginning with the right for national organizations to legally register.