Sahara : Guterres urges Morocco to create the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture

In his latest report on Western Sahara, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to Morocco’s lagging efforts in creating a «National Preventive Mechanism against Torture».

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres./Ph. DR

Human Rights in the Sahara is a factor that remains at the heart of the Western Sahara dispute. As in March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not hesitate in pointing at some alleged violations in his October report on the Western Sahara conflict. These violations were allegedly committed by the Moroccan authorities in the last seven months against Polisario supporters in the province.

«The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has received numerous reports» claiming that authorities have dispersed protests for «the self-determination of Sahrawi people, and exploitation of natural resources», said Guterres. Complaints sent to the UN body refer to «arbitrary arrests and mistreatment», added the Portuguese diplomat in his reports.

The National Preventive Mechanism against Torture

The UN body is «concerned by reports suggesting that human rights defenders and journalists have been repressed and surveilled. Moroccan authorities continue to restrict the entry of foreign visitors to Western Sahara».

Morocco could have avoided some of the comments made by the UN Secretary-General if it had proceeded - as it had promised - to create the «National Preventive Mechanism against Torture».

Thursday, November 27, 2014, King Mohammed VI had announced, in a message addressed to the participants of the 2nd edition of the World Forum on Human Rights, held in Marrakech, the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

A membership that automatically calls for the creation of the said Mechanism. This mission had been entrusted to the National Council for Human Rights, despite the comments of some NGOs which wanted an independent body take care of it.

From 22 to 28 October 2017, a delegation from the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment had also visited Morocco with the aim of providing advice for the government on the implementation of the Mechanism. But since then, the project has not progressed : the CNDH is still thinking of ways to make it come true.

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