NGOs urge OHCHR to send observer mission to Western Sahara

APS - 11 March 2021

GENEVA-A group of more than 270 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on Wednesday expressed their "deep" concern over the serious human rights violations perpetrated by Morocco against the Sahrawis, calling on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to send an observation mission to occupied Western Sahara "as soon as possible."

The call of the NGOs was made during an oral update in Geneva where the 46th session of the General Assembly of the Human Rights Council is taking place.

The 272 organizations, including the Sahrawi National Commission for Human Rights, expressed their "deep concern about the serious and systematic violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law committed by the Kingdom of Morocco, occupying power of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara."

Deploring the persistent silence observed by the OHCHR on the situation in Western Sahara, the NGOs called on the UN High Commissioner to "send without delay an observer mission to occupied Western Sahara and to report to the Human Rights Council at its 47th session.

"The resumption of the armed conflict that followed the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire by Morocco, has led to an escalation of repression of the Sahrawi civilian population, including human rights activists and journalists who try to report on abuses committed by the occupation forces," said the NGOs.

The group of NGOs also urged the Office of the High Commissioner to fulfill the commitments made by the Office at the World Humanitarian Summit, in particular by publicly condemning the serious violations of international humanitarian law and systematic human rights abuses that are occurring in Western Sahara.

Finally, the NGOs called on the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to "implement a programme of technical cooperation and capacity building with the legal representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Polisario Front."