OIAD urges Agadir’s Bar Association to reexamine the enrollment request of a Saharawi Lawyer

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PUSL.- The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) has asked the Agadir Bar Association, in Morocco to reexamine the enrollment request of Mohamed Hali, a Saharawi Lawyer. The request was rejected and the decision published last February 13th. According to the OIAD the person concerned has fulfilled the legal conditions required to be enrolled in the Agadir Bar Association and the necessary steps should therefore be taken to reconsider Mr. Hali’s request.

The Agadir Bar Association refused to enroll the new Saharawi lawyer, justifying its decision saying that Mohamed Hali has positions against the “Moroccan sovereignity” of Western Sahara. In the decision the Bar Association states that the lawyer had met with “separatist leaders”, who made statements “hostile to territorial integrity”, and was photographed with the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Furthermore, Hali was accused of “participating on more than one occasion in activities in Algerian cities, in the Tindouf camps (Saharawi refugee camps) and the Tifariti buffer zone.”

Mohamed Hali has fulfilled the legal conditions, namely to have passed the aptitude test for access to the Bar of Agadir, to have no criminal record and to be of Moroccan nationality (since all Saharawi in Occupied Western Sahara and South of Morocco are forced to have Moroccan nationality).

The rejection is clearly political motivated and proofs once more that there is no judiciary independence in Morocco. The State trumps judiciary independence.

Mohamed Hali is known for his peaceful engagement for independence of Western Sahara, but this is the case of several other Saharawi Lawyers that are enrolled in various Bar Associations in Morocco and are also defense lawyers of Saharawi Political Prisoners.

OIAD considers that this denial of enrollment raises concerns because there are no facts or legal arguments which could justify such a decision. In the absence of such facts and arguments, it would be a decision taken against the interests of Mr. Hali who would be deprived of the right of access to the practice of law for subjective political considerations, in violation of the Principles of United Nations relating to the role of the bar, in particular Principle 10, which states:

“Governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions ensure that there is no discrimination against anyone with regard to access to or the exercise of the profession – here, for reasons of race, color, sex, ethnic origin, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, fortune, birth, economic or social situation,… “

The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger is an initiative of the National Council of Bars (France), the Paris Bar (France), the Consejo General de la Abogacia Espanola (Spain) and the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italy). Launched in 2015, the OIAD aims to defend lawyers who are threatened in the exercise of their profession and to denounce situations that violate the rights of the defense.

The case of Mohamed Hali was brought to the attention of the Consejo General de la Abogacia Espanola by APRASE (Professional Association of Saharawi Lawyers in Spain).