Gdeim izik: report denounces moroccon trial of saharawi political prisoner based on false confessions obtained under torture

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gdeim izik

In a detailed report[1], Portuguese human rights activist Isabel Lourenço denounces the illegalities committed during the trial of the Saharawi political prisoners known as Gdeim Izik Group.

This group was abducted and put in arbitrary detention and tortured in 2010 after the dismantling by the Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara of the Peaceful protest camp known as Gdeim Izik and which Noam Chomsky characterized as the beginning of the Arab Spring.

The defendants had been convicted in a military trial in 2013, but the Court of Cassation, Morocco’s highest court, ordered new civilian proceedings pointing out the missing evidence concerning the alleged commitment of crimes and the fact that the whole military trial was based solely on the police minutes.

In the previous trial, a military court in Rabat convicted all of the defendants exclusively on the basis of their confessions obtained under torture.

Responding to a complaint filed by Asfari, represented by the Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France) the UN Committee Against Torture concluded on November 15, 2016, that Morocco had breached the UN Convention Against Torture with regard to Naama Asfari, on several counts.

Mrs Lourenço, who is member of Fundación Sahara Occidental and collaborator of, participated in the trial that started on 26th of December 2016 and ended on July 2017 in the appeal court of Salé, Rabat , she was also an international observer at the military court, having therefore attended all days of both proceedings.

19 of the detainees received sentences ranging from 20, 25 or 30 years to life imprisonment.

In the report’s conclusions Mrs Lourenço highlights the breach of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial, established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 4th Geneva Convention as well as Moroccan Law and Constitution.

The report that makes in depth analysis of the events that led to the trial and the responsibilities of not only the occupying power, the Kingdom of Morocco, but also that of the international community and the United Nations.

As can be read in summary of the proceedings and the conclusions this trial is to be considered of a political character o and that the group of Gdeim Izik as political prisoners that are unjustly detained.

On September 16th, 2017 the 19 human rights activists and political prisoners, were separated and transferred to 6 different prisons in Morocco being their whereabouts unknown for over 24hours. 6 of them are currently on hunger strike.

These transfers occurred only a few weeks before the first visit of the UN subcommittee against torture to Morocco.

In 2014 the UN working group on arbitrary detention visited the Gdeim Izik Group, except Mr. Larroussi, who the Moroccan authorities separated from the group. Larroussi was victim of extreme and systematic torture, his health condition is critical, and during the military court his clothes were several times stained with blood.

[1] see here: Report