Geneva Group urges UN to address human rights situation in Western Sahara

APS - 05 June 2021

GENEVA-The 285 member organizations of the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara urged the United Nations (UN) Security Council to hold a debate on the situation in occupied Western Sahara.

In a document released Thursday, the organizations proposed to the UN to create the mandate of a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara.

They also called on all High Contracting Parties to human rights conventions "to ensure that the Kingdom of Morocco complies with international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention."

The authors of the document denounced the harassment, torture and sexual violence "perpetrated by Morocco to silence Sahrawi human rights defenders."

Before the ceasefire breakdown, the Moroccan occupation forces began a campaign against journalists and Sahrawi human rights defenders, including members of the Sahrawi Organization against the Moroccan Occupation (ISACOM), say the signatories of the document.

Moreover, they reported more than 720 incidents over the past six months.

On May 8, Moroccan police officers arbitrarily attacked Sahrawi human rights defender Hassanna Abba, as he was returning home from visiting his brother. They insulted him and hit him on the head, feet and hands before leaving him in the street in a state of shock, said the document.

Such arbitrary violence was also documented against Sahrawi activist Hammad Hammad on May 9, when police attacked him while he was visiting a colleague.

The situation of Sahrawi human rights activist Sultana Khaya and her family, including her mother (84 years old) and children (the youngest is 2 years old), is extremely worrying. Since November 19, 2020, Khaya and some members of her family have been under arbitrary house arrest and are subjected to severe physical and psychological violence.