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Guerguerate : Amnesty calls for monitoring human rights in Tindouf and the Sahara

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Amnesty International reiterated on Monday its call to endow MINURSO with human rights monitoring mechanisms in the Sahara as well as in the Tindouf camps.

«For the past decade, the UN Security Council has been ignoring calls by Amnesty International and others to add a human rights component to MINURSO, which would allow for monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses, as is done by the vast majority of comparable UN missions around the world», the NGO said in a press release.

The NGO indicated that in the wake of the Royal Armed Forces’ intervention in Guerguerate, it was informed by local organizations monitoring the human rights situation in Western Sahara. «According to local organizations monitoring the human rights situation in Western Sahara, the Moroccan military operation was followed up with a crackdown on Sahrawi activists by Moroccan police, including raids on homes, increased surveillance, and arrests», it added.

«Though no civilian casualties have been reported in the clashes, the latest developments are a stark reminder of the urgent need for an independent, impartial and effective human rights monitoring mechanism in the territory, as well as in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, south-west of Algeria», it added.

For Amnesty, these latest developments add to the fact that «access to the region has grown increasingly difficult for external monitors as the human rights situation has continued to deteriorate». 

«Today, international human rights organizations are very rarely allowed to monitor and report from the ground, whether in Western Sahara or in the refugee camps in Tindouf. This has to change, especially ahead of what seems to be a new phase of conflict in the long-term dispute over the territory, with the possibility of renewed fighting endangering civilians and intensified repression of dissent by both sides», it denounced. 

«Now, more than ever, impartial and independent UN human rights monitoring and reporting in Western Sahara is desperately needed», Amnesty concluded.

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