Action needed on Western Sahara

Letter to H.E. Ms Nikki Haley Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary United States Mission to the United Nations

As we have outlined to you in previous letters, the lack of progress in ending the occupation of Western Sahara is untenable.  We remain dismayed by the failure of the UN Security Council to protect the men, women and children of Western Sahara from beatings, sexual violence, unfair trials and torture at the hand of the Moroccan State.

Extensive violations of human rights perpetrated against the Saharawi by the Moroccan State continue to be documented by local, national and international institutions.  Specific examples that have come to light this year include:

  • The detention of an 11-year old boy by Moroccan police for drawing a Western Sahara flag. His arrest follows the detention of 24 other Saharawi children in the last quarter of 2016. Many of the children report being beaten while in police custody.
  • The condemnation by the UN Committee Against Torture of Morocco’s use of torture, and failure to investigating allegations of torture made by Gdeim Izeik defendant Naama Asfari.
  • Morocco’s continued policy of deporting foreigners who they suspect of wishing to monitor the human rights situation. During January 2017, 57 people were expelled from Western Sahara. This followed previous expulsions of foreign journalists and lawyers in Autumn 2016.

Due to the lack of a permanent independent mechanism to monitor and report on human rights, the full extent of these violations remains unknown and they are perpetrated with impunity.

In December 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU-Morocco Association Agreement did not include Western Sahara.  Morocco has no legal right to exploit the natural resources of that part of Western Sahara that it occupies.

At the upcoming meetings on MINURSO’s mandate please ensure that the Security Council:

  • Sets a date for direct, face-to-face, negotiations without preconditions between the two parties based on the respect of the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination;
  • Immediately restores MINURSO to full functionality and gives it a mandate to monitor and report to the Security Council on human rights
  • Sanction Morocco for their failure to uphold international law relation to natural resources in Western Sahara and issue clear guidelines to companies to prevent them from engaging in illegal exploration and exploitation;
  • Set a date for a free and fair referendum to include the option for independence consistent with the established international legal norm of self-determination.

We enclose a briefing which explores these issues in greater depth.

Yours sincerely

Beccy Allen, Chair, Western Sahara Action Forum
Mark Luetchford, Chair, Western Sahara Campaign UK
Sara Eyckmans, Coordinator, Western Sahara Resource Watch
Suzanne Scholte, President, Defense Forum Foundation
Michael Beer, Executive Director, Nonviolence International
Fatma Mehdi, Secretary General, National Union of the Saharawi Women
Sidi Ahmad, President, Adala UK
Axel Goldau, Coordinator, Western Sahara Information Project
Jan Strömdahl, President, Swedish Western Sahara Committee
Pedro Pinto Leite, Secretary, International Platform of Jurists for East Timor
Lyn Allison, President, Australia Western Sahara Association
Erik Hagen, Director, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara
Hilt Teuwen, President, Zain Atfaak
Tanja Brodtmann, President, Freiheit für die Westsahara e.V.
Matyas Benyik, President, Central & Eastern European Alliance for Solidarity with the Saharawi People
Moulay Mhamed Brahim, Secretary General, UESARIO (Saharawi Student Union)
Mike Barton. Coordinator, Western Sahara Campaign-NZ
Chris Brazier, Co-Editor, New Internationalist
Cristina Martínez Benítez de Lugo, President, WSRW España
Berthier Perregaux, President, Comité suisse de soutien avec le peuple sahraoui
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB
Atabongwoung Gallous, President, Africa Solidarity for Sahrawi
Jalihenna Mohamed, Coordinator, SCAP (Saharawi Campaign Against the Plunder)
Carlos Villán Durán, President, The Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law
Theo Fink, Chairperson, Waiwhetu Lower Hutt Peace Group.
Thomas Schmidt, Secretary General, ELDH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights
Mshenga M. Juma, Coordinator, Tanzania Saharawi Solidarity Association
Mark Mc Loughlin, Coordinator, Western Sahara Action Ireland
Simon Dreven, Director, Reflektum, Centre for Global Social Reflections
Danielle Smith, Founding Director, Sandblast
Imke-Friederike Tiemann, Africa Officer, Aktionsgemeinschaft Solidarische Welt e.V.
Ulrich Delius, Director, Society for Threatened Peoples
Dr. Johannes M. Becker, President, Arbeitskreis Marburger WissenschaftlerInnen für Friedens- und Abrüstungsforschung (AMW).
Maj Jensen Christensen, Secretary General, DSU – Denmark
Marie Hagensen, Head of Secretariat, International Forum
Katheryne Aldana Villalobos, Representante Legal, Asociación Colombiana de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui
Gianfranco Fattorini, Representative to UNOG, American Association of Jurists (AAJ)
Martinoli Emmanuel et Marie-Claire, Animateurs, ARSO, Association pour un référendum libre et régulier au Sahara Occidental, Suisse
Julia Finér, Spokesperson, Emmaus Stockholm
Lahcen Dalil, President, Association for the Monitoring of Resources and for the Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS)
Isabel Lourenço, Human Rights, Fundación Sahara Occidental
Morten Nielsen, Head of Secretariat, Afrika Kontakt – Denmark
Lanny Göransson, Chairman, Bjärred-Lommas väl (Sweden)
Frank Willems, Coordinator, Stichting Zelfbeschikking West-Sahara
Becky Finlay Hall, Director, Olive Branch Arts
Franziska Lauper, Geschäftsleiterin, Terre des Hommes Schweiz
Santiago Jiménez, Coordinator, Observatorio Galego para o Sáhara Occidental (O.G.S.O.) de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
Tuva Krogh Widskiold, Leader, Changemaker (Norway)
Marie Hagensen, Head of Secretariat, International Forum
Malthe Lauritsen, Organiser, Free Western Sahara (DK)
B. Deglet, Chargé des relations publiques, Amis du Peuple du Sahara Occidental – APSO
Lotta Comé, Theme officer, Afrikagrupperna Sweden
Christian Viret, President, Bureau International pour le Respect des Droits de l’Homme au Sahara Occidental (Genève)
Gyro F. Fjermedal, Leader, Rød Ungdom, Norway
Katheryne Aldana Villalobos, Representante Legal, Asociación Colombiana de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui
Anna Sundström, Secretary General, Olof Palme International Center
Victoria Enström, Programme Manager Western Sahara, SweFOR, Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation