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Human rights in the Sahara, the Trump administration's balanced observations

As Morocco is expecting the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution on Western Sahara, the US Department of State released its 2018 report on human rights. Commenting on the human rights situation in the province, the US department kept a moderate tone.

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The US Department of State./Ph. DR

The US Department of State released, Wednesday evening, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, commenting on the human rights situation in Morocco. Part of the report, compiled by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, spotlighted the Sahara issue.

«The government continued to make travel documents available to Sahrawis, and there were no reported cases of authorities preventing Sahrawis from traveling», wrote the US department, stressing that the Kingdom «encouraged the return of Sahrawi refugees from Algeria and elsewhere if they acknowledged the government’s authority over Western Sahara».

The American diplomacy indicated in its review that, in 2018, there were no reports of «disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities during the year».

As for former cases of disappearance, that date back to the Years of Lead (from roughly the 1960s through the 1980s), the National Council on Human Rights (CNDH) in Laayoune «continued to investigate» them, the same source stated.

According to the US, Morocco made progress

The same report states, quoting CNDH, that the government «allocated additional funds during the year to the CNDH for reparations to individuals (or their living beneficiaries) not previously compensated due to technical errors in the work of the now-defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission».

It also reported that Morocco compensated, provided medical assistance and recovered stolen assets of individuals or their families that were identified by the commission.

Meanwhile, the document stressed that reports of torture have declined in the recent years. However, it noted that the Moroccan government's institutions and NGOs continued to receive complaints about ill-treatment of people in police custody.

The same report points out that, according to the report submitted by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on October the 3rd, 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continues to receive claims of human rights violations in the Sahara. «The CNDH and the DGAPR investigated allegations of inhuman conditions», wrote the US diplomacy.

Overall this year's report is noticeably different from the 2013 one, conducted under John Kerry's era. «Credible reports indicate that Moroccan security forces are involved in torture, beatings and other kinds of ill-treatment inflicted on Saharawi detainees», the text said at the time.

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