Human rights Morocco – Western Sahara: MEPs Express major concern

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PUSL.- Tuesday in the European parliament in Brussels during a session of droi (subcommittee for human rights of the European parliament) dedicated to the human rights situation in Morocco and Western Sahara several MEPs expressed their serious concerns about the many violations observed on the ground and denounced at international level.

During an Exchange of views with the President of the Moroccan National Council for human rights (cndh), Driss El yazami, the Galician MEP of BNG, Ana Miranda said that she is “very worried” with the “serious violations” of the rights of Saharawi political prisoners, including the group gdeim izik and forced disappearance of saharauis, of which were recently reported new cases.

Recalling “serious attacks” on fundamental rights of Saharawi prisoners that are “victims of detention in isolation, mistreatment and torture” Miranda asked if Morocco would decide one day to respect the convention against torture and other cruel , inhuman or degrading treatments that the kingdom ratified but so far not implemented in practice.

She denounced as such, the ” unfair trial” of the gdeim izik group and the heavy convictions, lamenting the disregard of their fundamental rights.

Ana Miranda mentioned in this context, the case of Naama Asfari, sentenced to 30 years in prison since November 2010, and whose wife, Mrs. Claude Mangin is denied entry in the territory of Morocco preventing her to visit her husband for almost two years. Mrs. Mangin was expelled 4 times being the last expulsion the 16th April.

According to Miranda, French President Emmanuel Macron received several letters by members of parliament, calling attention on the situation of french citizen, Claude Mangin, which began on 18 April a hunger strike demanding the restoration of her right to visit her husband.

Also portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas had already directed a written question to the high representative for foreign affairs, Frederica Mogherini on the case of Claude Mangin.

Ana Miranda, noted the disrespect for the right of defense of the Saharawi political prisoners, since the Moroccan authorities and the cndh do not respond to complaints and questions sent to the authorities by the French defense attorney of the group Gdeim Izik, maitre Olfa Ouled and lamented the case of Saharawi political prisoner Sidi Abdallahi Abbahah of group gdeim izik that was several days in unknown whereabouts after his transfer from Kenitra prison.

The galician MEP, Ana proposed a visit to prisons where the political prisoners are held in Morocco.

Miranda denounced also that on several occasions, MEPs were expelled by the Moroccan authorities, who refused access to the territory without any legal justification.

German MEP Barbara Lochbihler said that the freedom of movement is not respected in Morocco denouncing the pressure on non-governmental organizations, referring the reports of human rights watch and Amnesty international. According to Lochbihler “freedoms established in law are not guaranteed in practice”.

The Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini denounced the prohibition of foreign journalists and observers to have access to the region of RIF to observe and document the situation lived in this region of the North of Morocco, recalling that MEP Kati Piri has recently been prevented from go to the site.

Also in reference to the region of the RIF, the French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat observed the failure of the moroccan system with respect to the socio-economic rights, especially in RIF, the poorest region of Morocco.

” The situation would not be as it is today if Moroccan authorities would have fulfilled its commitments in this area, “she said.

Referring to freedom of expression in Morocco, the MEP stated that “there is a real problem in this area”.

According to Vergiat, more than 500 people, including 50 minors, were held after the movement of protest in RIF and protesters are accused of “secessionism and terrorism”.

She deplored the “very heavy” prison sentences against protesters arrested and the arrest of several moroccan journalists and the expulsion of foreigners.

The MEP rated the situation as “seriously alarming” and said that many NGOs are “worried” with the regression of rights, including the freedom of expression and that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution is not guaranteed in practice.

She lamented, the attitude of Moroccan authorities denouncing that she was “insulted” in the official Moroccan press after the meeting organized in the European parliament on the situation in RIF.

MEP Ivo Vajgl of Slovenia talked also about the case of Claude Mangin in hunger strike since April 18 demanding her right to visit her husband, Naama Asfari. The MEP questioned the President of the cndh about what he will do to protect the rights of this woman.

The Belgian MEP Maria Arena, denounced the pressures on Women associations pointing out that there is a contrast between the legal framework and the reality on the ground.

Horst Koehler, personal envoy for Western Sahara of the Secretary general of the United nations, heard all concerns having answered the issues raised by Ana Miranda stating that the solution for Western Sahara has to go through the application of the UN resolutions and it is essential to restart the negotiations between the parties without preconditions.

Antonio Panzeri, President of droi (subcommittee for human rights in the European parliament), said, that he will send a letter to the Moroccan authorities on the observations on made on Tuesday by the deputies and the case of Claude Mangin.

He also supported the proposal by Mrs Marie-Christine Vergiat to organize a debate in the European parliament with NGOs on human rights that are active in Morocco and in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. This debate should occur in the second half of 2018