New International report documenting extensive human rights violations in Western Sahara

Torture, murder, arbitrary arrests, and violence. During the last year, 256 reports of human rights violations have been reported in the occupied territory of Western Sahara.
A new report was published on Monday 13th April 2015 by the Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) gives evidence to this violations. 2015 marks the 40thanniversary of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and is also the focus of SAIH’s political campaign, launched 13th of April.
In the report “Acting with Impunity: Morocco’s Human Rights Violations in Western Sahara and the Silence of the International Community​ (Click on the title to read the full report) a total of 256 human rights violations is documented to have been committed in Western Sahara between the 1st of April 2014 and the 1st of March 2015. This documentation is based on in-depth empirical evidence. A total of 163 alleged incidents are emphasized in the report together with 283 named victims.
“These numbers are unacceptable. Even with UN’s presence Morocco is enjoying complete impunity, allowing them to commit human rights violations and exploit the rich natural resources in Western Sahara,” says Jørn Wichne Pedersen, President of SAIH.
UN lacks mandate to report on human rights violations
The report gives an aggregated view on the human rights violations committed in Western Sahara since April 2014, when UN’s mandate in Western Sahara was last discussed in the UN Security Council.
The UN’s peacekeeping mission MINURSO has been present in Western Sahara since the ceasefire in 1991. The Mission is one of few lacking a mandate to report on human rights violations. End of April 2015 the contents of the missions mandate is, once again, up for discussion in the Security Council.
“The numbers documented through our report is based on testimonials from local and international organizations. It is however impossible to get a complete and neutral documentation of the human rights violations being committed in Western Sahara today. The UN would be able to play the role as a neutral and credible actor,” says Jørn Wichne Pedersen leader of SAIH.
Initially, MINURSO’s mandate was to carry out a referendum for the Saharawi people on the issue of autonomy, which has never been carried out. Instead, the Saharawis continue to be harassed, beaten, raped, tortured, kidnapped and murdered, as documented in the report.
The report concludes that the international community has been callous regarding Morocco’s exploitation of Western Saharan natural resources and the brutal treatment of the Saharawi people. MINURSO’s mandate must be revised and extended to include documentation of human rights violations.
“SAIH demands that Norwegian authorities and the international community condemns Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. The right to autonomy must be acknowledged without delay, and the daily occurrences of human rights violations must cease,” says Wichne Pedersen.
Facts – Western Sahara:
– Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Previously a Spanish colony.
– In 1991, the UN brokered a peace agreement. The parties agreed to hold a referendum to determine the status of the territory, and the UN mission MINURSO was established. The referendum was never held.
– Around half of the Saharawi people live in refugee camps in the South-West of Algeria today.
– Morocco has constructed a wall of 2500km around the central areas of Western Sahara; It plunders the Saharawi rich natural resources in complicity with various International comapnies and countries. This exploitation is considered illegal by the International law, but those involved don’t care about this fact.
– The UN, AU, most of the Majority of the American States, the international criminal court in Hague, all progressist parties and most political parties in the world support the Saharawi’s right to self-determination.
– The UN mission MINURSO has not obtained an extended mandate from the Security Council and cannot document human rights violations in Western Sahara