Expulsion of Portuguese Human Rights Activist from the occupied territories of Western Sahara by the Moroccan occupation authorities

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PUSL.- Isabel Lourenço, Portuguese citizen and human rights activist was expelled this tuesday, at 16:30 h

As Portuguese citizen no visa is required and Mrs. Lourenço has respected all requirements of Moroccan entry law 02/03, i.e. valid passport, information of the hotel she would would stay in, return ticket to Las Palmas, Gran Canarias.

Mrs.  Lourenço has  never given a false pretext for her visit, stating clearly that she intended to follow up on the situation of the families of the prisoners of Gdeim Izik, the assessment of the current situation of the families of 19 year old detainee Mansour El Moussaui and of  Mahfouda Lefkir, 34 year old mother and cousin of Mansour who was sentenced to 6 months in prison and a 2000 Dirham fine for crying out at the end of the sentencing of Mansour inside the court room against the Moroccan occupation and injustice of the trial.

Mrs. Lourenço does not intend to act in any way that could be considered as ‘a threat to public order’. The redaction of reports based on field work and interviews is not ‘a threat to public order’, it is the rightful exercise of freedom of thought, speech and opinion an Anchor of Human Rights.

Rather than expelling Mrs. Lourenço, Moroccan authorities should show they have nothing to hide by granting human rights researchers and observers unfettered access to the Saharawi population, associations and families of the political prisoners.

Although Western Sahara is not Morocco, and the Moroccan Kingdom according to Internal Law has no sovereignty over the non-autonomous territory of Western Sahara, it is the de facto administrative power and Spain de administrator in jure according to the UN.

The UN has a mission (MINURSO) on the ground but unfortunately the mandate that is in place (monitoring of the cease fire and implementation of the Referendum for self-determination) is far from being accomplished. It is this lack in the mandate of protection of the Saharawi population and the foreign observers that want to access the territory that allow the total impunity of Morocco. Furthermore, no international organizations like the Red Cross, UNICEF, UNESCO or any kind of relief or humanitarian or human rights International organizations or mechanisms are in the occupied territories.

For the last two decades Mrs. Lourenço has followed the Western Sahara conflict, writing reports based on field work in the refugee camps, the occupied territories and with the Saharawi population in Europe. She has also participated in trials of Saharawi Political Prisoners as international observer accredited by Fundación Sahara Occidental.

Mrs. Lourenço last report on Saharawi children and students under occupation has been published by the Center for African Studies of University of Porto, where she is a researcher. Her reports on the human rights situation, the political prisoners and their families, as well as the trial proceedings have been published for the last years and are public.

As member both of Fundación Sahara Occidental and collaborator of porunsaharalibre.org she has participated in International conferences and forums, the United Nations Human Rights Sessions, the 4th Committee of the UN and several events in the European Parliament.

Mrs. Lourenço’s actions are public and in no moment,   could she be described as a “menace to security” of any country.

Her expulsion which is one among hundreds over the recent years is the confirmation by the Moroccan occupation regime that human rights are not respected and that the evidence that can be shown on the ground is overwhelming.