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SAHARA ANALYSIS February 2013
Lunes, 04 de Marzo de 2013 18:28
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Text Box:  February 2013
SAHARA ANALYSIS
No: 76
Western Sahara Campaign UK www.wsahara.org.uk email: coordinator@wsahara.org.uk
Manora, Cwmystwyth, Aberystwyth, SY23 4AF
The UN Security Council Must Monitor Human Rights in the Western Sahara
The trial and sentencing of 25 Saharawi, who had been held in prison without trial for two years, had been tortured, were illegally tried in a military court, and with some receiving sentences of life imprisonment, yet again highlights the failure of the UN Security Council to accept its moral and legal responsibilities to protect the rights of the people of the Western Sahara.
Join us in calling upon the UN Security Council, and the British Government, to live up to these responsibilities:

Write to your MP asking them to:
· Sign EDM 1113 - see text below  or here
· write to the Foreign Secretary asking that the UK supports the urgent implemention of a comprehensive human rights monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara reporting directly to the UNSC.
For more information go to www.wsahara.org
EDM 1113
That this House notes the concerns raised by Amnesty International and other organisations over the trial and sentencing of 24 civilian Saharawi human rights activists by a military tribunal; further notes the increasing human rights abuses in the Western Sahara; acknowledges the need for Minurso to be given a human rights monitoring mandate and calls on the Government, to make representation to the Moroccan Government to revoke the politically motivated and unjust sentences against the 24 Saharawi human rights activists, to release all Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails and to allow access to the Saharawi territories under Morocco’s occupation by independent observers and international media.
WSC has joined other organisations to set up WSAF (Western Sahara Action Forum), an international coalition dedicated to the protection of human rights and the implementation of international law in Western Sahara. www.wsaforum.org
WSAF is concerned with the current human rights crisis in the region and believes the protection of human rights is an essential foundation for resolution of the conflict.

Dark Deed in the Dark of the Night
In the early hours of Sunday morning, 17 February the Moroccan Military Court in Rabat delivered its sentences on the 25 Saharawi accused of offenses relating to violence during the dismantling of the Gdeim Izik protest camp by Moroccan security forces in 2010.
The sentences were from 20 years to life in prison for 23 of the Saharawi. Prominent human rights defenders received the harshest sentences, including a life sentence for one defendant in absentia who was previously tried and acquitted of the same crime by another tribunal.
Amnesty International described the trial as flawed from the outset, in violation of international standards for fair trials. Whilst in detention the defendants claim to have suffered torture and to have been coerced into signing confessions.
Any trial of the defendants, many of whom are prominent human rights activists, should have been in a civilian court. Any trial should have been in Western Sahara; the defendants should not have been taken to Morocco. It should not have been delayed by over two years and the allegations of torture should have been fully and independently investigated.

Amnesty International
18 February 2013
Convicted Sahrawis must receive fair trials in civilian courts
20 February 2013
Morocco/Western Sahara: Two years too long – repression of protests must end
Two years after thousands of people took to the streets of Rabat, Casablanca and other cities in Morocco calling for reform, repression of protests in Morocco remains routine, said Amnesty International.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Spokesperson: Rupert Colville
Geneva: 19 February 2013
We are concerned by the use of a military court to try and convict 25 Saharan civilians charged in relation to violence during and after the dismantling of the Gdim Izik protest camp near Laayoune, Western Sahara, in November 2010, when 11 members of the Moroccan security forces and two Saharans were killed.

The 25 civilians were sentenced to between two years and life in prison by the Permanent Military Tribunal of the Royal Armed Forces in Rabat during the night of 16 to 17 February 2013.

As noted by the Human Rights Committee, the use of military or special courts to try civilians raises serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.

We are also concerned by reports that most of the accused allege they were tortured or ill-treated during their pre-trial detention, but that no investigations into these allegations appear to have taken place. This was a very serious event, involving substantial loss of life, and it is important that justice is done, but it is also important that the judicial processes scrupulously abide by international fair trial standards.
To Read Press Release
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
Washington, DC – Feb. 20, 2013
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights is deeply disturbed by the mistreatment and the military trial of 25 Sahrawi in Morocco. The RFK Center calls for a full investigation into the alleged torture of the prisoners and calls into question Morocco's use of military courts in trying civilians.

Euro-Med Human Rights Network
Copenhagen, 20 February 2013 – The EMHRN condemns the court-martial of the 24 Sahrawi activists in Rabat.
The EMHRN sent lawyer and EMHRN representative Michael Ellman out to observe the trial and after a series of adjournments – not all explained – the trial has at last been held and the verdicts have been extremely severe.
At the trial, many of the defendants said they had been tortured, but the Tribunal failed to investigate their claims. No proof of the accused’s guilt was brought forward, and the President of the Tribunal even refused to hear evidence from prosecution witnesses whose testimony was judged too shaky. In addition, the case file contains no proper substantive investigation (those killed or injured unidentified, an autopsy on only one of the 10 corpses, no DNA evidence, a videotape from which the defendants cannot be identified).
European Parliament resolution on the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Expresses its concern at the continued violation of human rights in Western Sahara; calls for the protection of the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate; demands the release of all Sahrawi political prisoners; welcomes the establishment of a Special Envoy for the Sahel and stresses the need for international monitoring of the human rights situation in Western Sahara; supports a fair and lasting settlement of the conflict on the basis of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions