Prolonged solitary confinement of the Saharawi Political Prisoners

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Português (Portuguese (Portugal)) Français (French)

PUSL.- The four Gdeim Izik prisoners currently held in Tiflet2 prison are being held in prolonged solitary confinement, some of them have been denied the access to books although they are currently in university exams and have no meaningful human contact.

The four Saharawi political prisoners are in different modules (housing units) in the prison and never see each other nor do they contact each other.

El Bachir Khadda is in this situation for over 9 months (285 days) since his transfer on the 16th of September 2017, having neither books, nor radio or tv. He spends 22 hours in confinement in his cell, but even the two hours he is allowed to exit he chooses to stay in the cell due to the constant harassment of the common criminals in detention, a behavior that is incentivized by the guards. When the other prisoners try to engage however in a normal conversation the guards punish them.

Mr. Mohamed Lamin Haddi was transferred to Tiflet the same day as Mr Khadda and is also: 23hours per day in solitary confinement for 285 days, he has neither books, nor tv and the radio that he owns does not work since the prison administration does not allow him to purchase the necessary batteries.

Mr. Khadda and Mr. Haddi are this week in university exams for which they were prevented from studying since they do not have the necessary reading material.

Mr. Mohamed Bourial is also in solitary confinement and spends 22 hours in his cell, in his case he is in a module with detainees that suffer from different diseases. Bourial has access to books but no tv or radio. Yesterday he was attacked with a knife in the courtyard by a prisoner with psychological disorder.

Mr. Sidi Abdallah Abbahah is in solitary confinement since his transfer on the 7th of May (52 days) like Mr. Bourial, 22 hours in his cell he has a tv but it only works when there is electricity in his cell. He has neither books nor radio.

Prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture that is not allowed by the Un Standard Minimum Rules for Prisoners (Mandela Rules), nor other international covenants, it is actually also contrary to Moroccan Law (Law 23-98 that regulates the prison organization and administration).

The physical and psychological effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented by medical researches and include amongst others: heart palpitations (awareness of strong and/or rapid heartbeat while at rest), diaphoresis (sudden excessive sweating), insomnia, back and other joint pains, deterioration of eyesight, poor appetite, weight loss and sometimes diarrhoea, anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, paranoia and psychosis.

Contacted by porunsaharalibre, Maitre Olfa Ouled, lawyer of the Gdeim Izik political prisoners, told us “I have been sending faxes to the Moroccan authorities on the situation of all prisoners of the group urging the judicial power to react, but they do not answer. There is no legal reason for their confinement, prolonged confinement is illegal and it is clearly damaging the health status of my clients, endangering their lives”.

Prolonged solitary confinement is applied to most of the Saharawi political prisoners not as punishment for any infringements of prions regulations but as a technique to break their spirits and induce even more psychological suffering to the prisoners and their families.

All Saharawi political prisoners were transferred by the occupying power (morocco) from Western Sahara to the Moroccan Kingdom, a clear violation of humanitarian law. This imposes great difficulties on the visits of the families that have to spend considerable amounts of money to travel and arrange housing near the prisons, also it is frequent that after arrival the visits are denied arbitrarily by the prison directors, forcing the families to stay several weeks until they can visit.

Since the dispersion of the 19 detainees of the Gdeim Izik group to different prisons all over Morocco, also the flow of information on their situation has reduced significantly, being increasingly more difficult to monitor their current status of detention and health, a clear strategy of the Moroccan authorities who aim for “silence” around this issue.

The Gdeim Izik group has still pending a decision from the supreme court regarding their last trial where the questions put forward by the supreme court regarding the military trial in 2013 where according to the international observer not answered, namely the presentation of valid and credible evidence beyond the documents produced by the police that were signed by the Saharawi political prisoners under torture or extreme ill treatment and mostly without knowledge of the content.

Current location of the Gdeim Izik Prisoners:

Tifelt2

Abdallah Abbahah
El Bachir Khadda,
Mohamed Bourial,
Mohamed Lamin Haddi,

Bouzakarn

Abdallah Toubali
Cheik Banga
Khouna Babeit
Mohamed Tahlil

Ait Melloul

Brahim Ismaili
Mohamed Bani
Mohamed Embarek Lefkir
Sidahmed Lemjeyid

El Arjat

Abdel Jalil Laaroussi

Kenitra

Abdallahi Lakfawni,
Ahmed Sbaai
El Bachir Bountanguiza
Hassan Dah
Houcein Zawi
Naama Asfari