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Palmecentrets generalsekreterare Jens Orback skriver tillsammans med en rad svenska och nordiska organisationsföreträdare och politiker till FN:s säkerhetsråds ordförande, H.E. Eugene-Richard Gasana, om vikten av att Minurso ges mandat att bevaka och rapportera om brott mot de mänskliga rättigheterna i Västsahara.

H.E. Eugene-Richard Gasana
President of the UN Security Council
United Nations
New York

Stockholm, April 12th, 2013

Subject: MINURSO urgently needs a mandate to monitor the Human Rights situation in Western Sahara

Mr. President,
When founded in 1991, the primary objective of MINURSO was to administer the settlement proposal between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, including overseeing the ceasefire and the implementation of a referendum on self-determination.  However, this was almost two decades ago, and the referendum has still not been held.

In the interim, the Sahrawi people have suffered from serious violations of their individual and collective human rights. Moroccan authorities continue to subject those Saharawis who openly advocate self-determination or who denounce Moroccan human rights violations to various forms of repression, including imprisonment after unfair trials, beatings, arbitrary restrictions on the right to travel, and denial of the right to peaceful assembly, association, and expression.

Human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Front line defenders and the RFK Centre for Justice and Human Rights have long reported on these human rights violations.

But the situation of the Saharawis in the occupied territories of Western Sahara has deteriorated markedly in recent years and months –after a peaceful protest was brutally and violently suppressed by Moroccan police and armed forces on November 2010 in Gdeim Izik. This protest Camp was the largest ever Saharawi protest in the occupied territories and showed the growing frustration of the Saharawis living under Moroccan occupation.

A large part of the Saharawi population in Western Sahara had merely gathered to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the appalling conditions that they live under, as well as with Morocco’s denial of their economic, social and political rights that in effect makes them second-class citizens in their own country.

Recent events have demonstrated Morocco’s dismissive attitude towards human rights in the Western Sahara region. The military trials of Saharawi civilians involved in the Gdeim Izik protest camp have shocked the international community.

In the context of a politically motivated trial, the Moroccan military court issued an inexcusably severe and unacceptable set of judgments against twenty four activists who were protesting against the marginalization of the Saharawis.  Nine Saharawis were sentenced to life imprisonment; four to 30 years imprisonment; seven to 25 years; three to 20 and two to 2-and-a-half years imprisonment. The numerous irregularities during the trials and the abuses suffered by the prisoners during their detention are things to take into account when determining Morocco’s lack of respect of the human rights of the Saharawis.

The defendants reported on several occasions during their two-year pre-trial detention that they were regularly submitted to torture, in order to force ”confessions” out of them. The Court flatly refused to investigate these claims.  Moreover, the apparent lack of evidence to support the charges against the political detainees, and the claims of torture, were seen by many international observers and independent human rights organisations,  including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the RFK Centre for Justice and Human Rights, as indicative of a judicial process well short of international standards, and a violation by Morocco of its international human rights law obligations.

Amnesty International statements in relation to the trial:

“The trial of civilians before a military court does not meet internationally recognized standards for a fair trial. The 24 accused must be brought before a civilian court with all the human rights guarantees that go along with it, and in no event must anyone be sentenced to death,”

“The Moroccan authorities have ignored calls to try the defendants in an independent, impartial civilian court. Instead they have opted for a military court where civilians can never receive a fair trial.”

“It is disturbing that the authorities have also ignored the Sahrawi defendants’ allegations of torture and coerced confessions.”

“The use of military courts, compounded by the fact that torture allegations have not been investigated, casts a serious doubt on the Moroccan authorities’ intention and whether they were more concerned with securing a guilty verdict than justice.”

In light of the serious Human Right’s violations of Morocco against the Saharawi population, it is only fitting that the authority to monitor human rights in Western Sahara be given to MINURSO, as MINURSO is already present on the ground in Western Sahara. Also, MINURSO’s mandate explicitly states that MINURSO is governed by the general principles of United Nations peace-keeping operations.

A lasting and just resolution of the conflict of Western Sahara is long overdue. Morocco continues to occupy parts of theTerritory against the will of the Saharawi people, and in violation of the most basic principles of the Charter and dozens of UN resolutions.  The Security Council has recognised that consolidation of the status quo is unacceptable.

The signatories of this letter urge the Security Council to intervene immediately to seek the reversal of the arbitrary rulings by the Moroccan military court, and the release of all the Sahrawi political detainees in Moroccan jails.  In doing so, we urge the Security Council to ensure that the UN does its utmost to guarantee respect for human rights in Western Sahara, including through the institution of in situ monitoring and reporting, and that it moves quickly to fulfil the long-standing promise of a referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

We would be grateful to Your Excellency if you would bring this letter to the attention of all the members of the Security Council.

We thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Signatories:

SWEDEN

Political parties in Parliament:
Swedish Social Democratic Party, Urban Ahlin, Foreign relations spokesperson
Vänsterpartiet/Left party, Hans Linde, Foreign relations spokesperson
Green Party, Bodil Ceballos, Foreign relations spokesperson

Members of Parliament
Anita Brodén            FP   (Liberal Party)
Bodil Ceballos         MP  (Green Party)   Foreign relations spokesperson
Helena Leander        MP
Urban Ahlin             S     (Social Democratic Party) Foreign relations spokesperson
Carina Hägg             S
Hans Linde               V    (Left Party)      Foreign relations spokesperson
Amineh Kakabaveh  V
Eva Olofsson            V
Jens Holm                V
Lars Ohly                 V
Marianne Berg         V

Members of European Parliament
Olle Schmidt           ALDE
Cecilia Wikström    ALDE
Isabella Lövin         GUE/NGL
Mikael Gustafsson, GUE/NGL
Marita Ulvskog       PASD
Åsa Westlund         PASD
Anna Hedh             PASD
Göran Färm           PASD
Jens Nilsson           PASD
Olle Ludvigsson    PASD

NGOs
Africa Groups of Sweden, Gabi Björsson Secretary General
Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden, Erik Esbjörnson, Programme Developer
Committee for Western Sahara Women, Sonja Gardefjord, Chair
Christian Council of Sweden, Karin Wiborn, General Secretary
Christian Student Movement, KRISS- Kristna Studentrörelsen, Helena Eriksson
Emmaus Björkå, Krister Holm, Secretary General
Farnebo Folk High School, Paul Carlsson, principal
Joint Future Church – A Church in Sweden, formed by The Baptist Union, The Mission Covenant Church and the Methodist Church of Sweden, Christer Daelander, Coordinator for Church and Society
Kvinnor för Fred, Women for Peace, Sweden, Sylvia Rönn, chair
Swedish Social Democratic Youth League, Darina Agha, international secretary
The Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation, Sofia Walan, General secretary
Olof Palme International Center, Jens Orback, Secretary General
Swedish Western Sahara Action, Sören Lindh, Co-ordinator
Swedish Western Sahara Committee, Jan Strömdahl, chair person
Young Greens Sweden, Lorentz Tovatt, spokesperson

DENMARK

NGOS
Africa Contact – Denmark, Morten Nielsen, Head of Secretariat
People Uniting and Generating Aid for Development (PUGAD), Einer Lyduch, Chairman
Genvej til Udvikling (GtU) – Denmark, Jørgen Olsen, Coordinator,
The Development Education Centre – Denmark, Sonja Salminen,
Action Aid Denmark – Denmark, Tue Magnussen, Council member
The Danish United Nations Association – Denmark, Jørgen Estrup, Chairman

FINLAND
Finnish Peace Committee – Suomen Rauhanpuolustajat ry, Teemu Matinpuro,
The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU – Kehys
International Solidarity Work – Kansainvälinen Solidaarisuustyö
Finnish-Arab Friendship Society, Ilona Junka, President,

NORWAY
Arbeidenes Ungdomsfylking in Norway (Social Democratic Youth League)
Norwegian Council for Africa
SAIH – the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund, Anja Bakken Riise, Chair
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Erik Hagen

Individuals
Sten De Geer, lawyer, Stockholm

Christian Harlang, Supreme Court Advocate – Denmark

Publiceringsdatum: 2013-04-16

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