Sahara

Amnesty wants the MINURSO to monitor human rights in Western Sahara and in Tindouf

Amnesty International has urged the UN mission in Western Sahara to monitor human rights in the provinces and in the Tindouf camps. The NGO highlights the need of creating an independent mechanism within the MINURSO to conduct the mission.

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In a statement made public on Wednesday, October the 10th, the London-based international organization Amnesty International urged the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to monitor human rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf camps.

«Independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained human rights monitoring must be a central element of the UN’s future presence» in the two areas, stressed the NGO. The latter believes that the UN mission must draft reports on human rights violations «committed by both sides, the Moroccan authorities and pro-independence movement the Polisario Front».

In its note, Amnesty International highlighted the «lack of an independent mechanism to monitor human rights» in Western Sahara. The organization criticized the status of the Moroccan National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) which is tasked with protecting human rights in the provinces.

For Amnesty «the fact that CNDH’s president and at least nine of its 27 members are appointed by the King of Morocco is a threat to its independence and impartiality».

In this regard, the NGO stressed the need of having a «fully independent» mechanism within the MINURSO to report human rights abuses in Western Sahara.

Meanwhile, Amnesty indicated that the MINURSO must do the same in the Tindouf camps, «where access to information regarding the human rights situation on the ground is limited, leaving residents at risk of abuse and lacking avenues for accountability».

The National Preventive Mechanism against Torture in Western Sahara

Amnesty International's proposal comes as the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dedicated a significant part of his recent report on Western Sahara to human rights violations in the region.

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 in his October report. Complaints sent to the UN body refer to «arbitrary arrests and mistreatment», added the Portuguese diplomat.

The UN Secretary-General also urged the Kingdom to implement the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture in Western Sahara, especially as the creation of the body in the provinces is still pending.

Remarks made by both Guterres and Amnesty International come in a particular context for the Western Sahara conflict. In the UN Security Council three meetings on Western Sahara have been scheduled for October.

Also, on October the 29th the UN will have to adopt a new resolution to renew the mandate of the MINURSO.

For the record, Morocco has already announced in several occasions that it rejects the idea of allowing the MINURSO to monitor human rights in the Sahara.

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