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International Press
Legal immunity for Morocco’s armed forces rings alarm bells
Viernes, 08 de Junio de 2012 12:29
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By Mustapha Ajbaili

A Moroccan draft law that seeks to grant members of the armed forces legal immunity for “military operations” carried out inside the kingdom has sparked criticism by human rights organizations who say it violates the principle of equal justice under law.

The “basic guarantees for the military” draft law states that “criminal investigation shall not be applied to members of the Royal Armed Forces who are executing the orders of their commanders…during an operation inside the national territories.”
The proposed legislation also states that military members will be “entitled to state protection … against threats, prosecution, or abuse during or after their duty.”

The participation of military forces in the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in some Arab Spring countries like Libya, Yemen and currently Syria, has left many people in the region increasingly suspicious about their armed forces.

The Egyptian army, for instance, had noticeably sided with protesters in the early days of the country’s anti-regime uprising, but was later accused of violently cracking down on protests and of committing extra-judicial killings and imprisoning revolutionaries.

A coalition of 18 human rights organizations in Morocco last week sounded alarm bells by warning that the proposed legislation would “legitimize the rules of impunity” if passed.

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Morocco's Short-Sighted Politics
Jueves, 31 de Mayo de 2012 23:53
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By Anna Theofilopoulou, May 21, 2012

April of this year marked the 21st anniversary since the UN Security Council accepted responsibility for trying to resolve the Western Sahara conflict through a referendum on self-determination. The referendum has never taken place, nor is it likely to ever happen. Nor, for that matter, is it likely that the conflict will be resolved through the mutually acceptable political solution that the Council has been asking for since April 2004.

The Security Council adopted yet another resolution asking the parties, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, which represents Western Saharans, to demonstrate the political will to work on the implementation of its resolutions, something that they have not done so far and giving them another year to continue with their posturing. And again, the Council failed to squarely address the question of human rights in the territory, other than to include a weak passage in the resolution’s introduction stressing the “importance” of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and surrounding refugee camps, and welcoming unilateral steps by Morocco to fulfill its commitments on the issue.

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Human Rights UPR review on Morocco (ONLINE STREAMING)
Martes, 22 de Mayo de 2012 14:29
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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL:

Universal Periodic Review on Morocco Life! Check Source (Channel 11 & 12) / Revisión Periódica Universal a Marruecos Click para ir a la fuente (Canal 11 y 12)

 

 
The Western Sahara Peace Process: Tragedy or Farce?
Jueves, 10 de Mayo de 2012 23:45
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By Jacob Mundy

At the end of every April, a small drama plays out in the UN Security Council. This is when the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO, its French acronym) comes up for its annual renewal. Western Sahara — Africa’s last colony according to the United Nations — is largely ignored by the Security Council the other eleven months of the year. The Secretary-General has a Person Envoy working on the case, former US Ambassador Christopher Ross, one of the great Arabophone diplomats of his age.  The mandate given to Ambassador Ross, to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution that will afford Western Sahara its long denied right to self-determination, is a farce and everyone knows it.

Morocco, the country that has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1976, has made it abundantly clear that self-determination (that is, a referendum on independence) is out of the question. Backing Morocco’s unilateral assertion of sovereignty over Western Sahara is a member of the Permanent Five, France. What the United States is to Israeli interests on the Council, France is to Morocco’s. Even when Morocco does not hold a seat on the Council (as it will for the next two years), Paris and Rabat are thick as thieves when it comes to protecting Morocco’s control over Western Sahara.

By now it is well known that there is no will from the other permanent members of the Council to challenge France and Morocco on this issue. So every April Western Sahara’s “group of friends” (France, Russia, United States, United Kingdom, and Spain, the de jure administering power) comfortably assume their well established roles in the well scripted dramaturgy called the Western Sahara peace process.

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Gdeim Izik – Sparking off the Arab Spring documentary
Jueves, 10 de Mayo de 2012 03:11
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I attended the Finnish Social Forum (FSF) screening of Gdeim Izik documentary. The Finnish Social Forum is an annual gathering of Finnish NGO’s, professionals, researchers and activists. It is also the local branch of the World Social Forum. The event is mainly funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. FSF attracts a vast and varied crowd and this year was no exception. On my walk to the fourth floor where the documentary was to be shown, I had met several friends and bought three books from a discount basket.

The room was half full when I arrived. Inside there were people I already knew, but also a lot of new faces. Some of the Social Forum events gather dozens of people, and I was aware that the Western Sahara issue would not be one of those big ones where it is hard to find a seat. So, I was very pleased to see so many people attending. The documentary was released by the human rights organization Sahara Thawra

More people should see the film. It brings to light at least two major issues connected with the conflict: the conflict is mainly ignored by the world and there is very little independent monitoring of human rights.

Now, the strength of the film is in its weakness. The documentary depicts only a partial truth. It only shows what it can show. There was no independent reporting because Morocco made sure no reporters were around. Amazingly, reporters who tried to fly from Spain were not let in to the planes heading for Morocco. The UN Minurso operation was nowhere to be seen. All we got from Gdeim Izik is this documentary and the parts that were filmed in the camp were shot by amateurs who just happened to have a camera. This is not a work of journalism but it is a statement. It is easy to dismiss as propaganda but in doing so we fail to see the other side: The Sahrawi side, the side, we seldom see.

I must admit that I had very little knowledge of the documentary beforehand. I knew it was about Gdeim Izik, the 2010 Saharawi protest camp in the occupied Western Sahara and that it was brutally dismantled by the Moroccan military and secret police. It has been claimed by Noam Chomsky that what happened in Gdeim Izik was the “first spark” of the Arabic Spring.

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