Yesterday, 29 October 2017, Saharawi political prisoner Abdallah Boukioud was released after serving four years in prison, sentenced by the Moroccan occupation authorities because of his political views.
Boukioud, who served the end of his sentence in Tiznit prison, was subjected to torture and continuous ill-treatment during his detainment and held several prolonged hunger strikes.
4 years of suffering and torture
Arrested on 27 October 2013 and sentenced to four years in prison for having participated in a peaceful demonstration demanding the rights of the Saharawi people, he was charged and convicted for damage to public property, belonging to an armed group and obstruction of public road, causing injuries to civil servants.
None of these allegations was substantiated either in the court of first instance or in the court of appeal, the only “evidence” being a supposed video that was never brought before the court, despite the insistence of Mr Boukioud’s lawyer.
The evidence submitted by the defense showing that Mr Boukioud was not in the place where the alleged disturbances occurred on the date referred to by the court were not admitted by the court. None of the evidence submitted by Mr Boukioud’s lawyer was admitted to court. (see report here)
According to his testimony in court, Boukioud had been repeatedly tortured since the time of his arrest and more than 20 days passed before he was brought before a judge for the first time. Boukioud spent more than 20 days in “observation”. After his arbitrary detention, he was tortured for 3 days, the confessions obtained under torture were all signed with the fingerprint, although Mr. Boukioud can read and write.
During these three days, he was deprived of food and water, he was blindfolded, handcuffed, naked, members of the Moroccan authorities beat him brutally with batons and other objects, spat and urinated on him, and he was continually threatened and insulted.
Mr. Boukioud submitted several complaints to the Moroccan authorities and the NHRC (National Human Rights Council of Morocco) with copies sent to the High Commissioner for UN Human Rights and the High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs of the European Union without any type of effect.
In May 2014, Abdallah went on hunger strike for 67 days, after which the prison administration gave him intravenous saline.
Despite all the protests his situation did not change, the prison authorities did not meet any of his demands and his health was seriously compromised.
Boukioud received no medical attention.
On September 23, 2014, Boukioud began a new hunger strike that ended on October 2, 2014.
On October 6, he resumed his hunger strike after being informed that he would be presented to the court on October 13 without a defense lawyer, he ended the strike on 26 October after reaching an agreement with the prison administration.
On the 13th, he was informed that his trial was again postponed to October 20 in Agadir.
On October 20, his trial was postponed again to November.
On November 3, he was brought before the Appeal Court of Agadir and sentenced to four years.
Mr. Boukioud has serious health problems, not only because of the hunger strikes he undertook, but also due to the grave medical malpractice of the prison administration, food shortages and continued ill-treatment, harassment, psychological and physical torture.
The conditions of the cells in the prison of Ait Melloul, where he served the first part of its sentence, have subhuman standards, they are overcrowded and lack of ventilation and light. Sanitary facilities inside the cells are holes in the floor, the dirt is extreme being an ideal environment for viruses and contagious diseases. The remaining prisons that Boukioud passed trough were not in better condition.
During great part of the time of his detention Boukioud slept on the floor without a mattress in a cell with 5mx5m and 27 prisoners of common crime, the food consisted of tea water or coffee in the morning, sometimes with bread, a vegetable broth or sometimes couscous for lunch (without meat); the dinner was leftovers when there were any.
On January 16, 2015, went again on hunger strike, demanding medical attention, against the inhumane conditions of the prison and against unfair trial and sentence issued without evidence.
The treatment and prison conditions of Mr. Boukioud were in clear violation of treaties which Morocco has ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on May 3, 1979 and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) on 21 June 1993. The CAT imposes an obligation to “take legislative measures, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture”, including to prevent “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
International Community is accomplice of crimes committed by Morocco
The case of Abdallah Boukioud is identical to the other cases of Sahrawi political prisoners who are subjected to medieval practices of the repressive apparatus of the Kingdom of Morocco with the continued complicity of the international community. Albeight all violations committed against Abdallah Boukioud, none of the international bodies took any action to prevent the continued subhuman treatment of this young Sahrawi. Apparently the lives of Saharawi political prisoners, pursued for their peaceful actions and demand of their rights as enshrined in the Charter of Human Rights are not on the list of “concern” of policy makers or on the list of media interest.