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PUSL.- MP’s Navendru Mishra, Alex Sobel, Hywel Williams, Grahame Morris, Alan Brown and Patrick Grady questioned the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development on Western Sahara.

The questions on Morocco’s breach of the 1991 cease-fire agreement, arbitrary detention and siege of Saharawi civilians and increased harassment in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, the ill-treatment of Saharawi political prisoners, further occupation of Saharawi territory all received a non-answer from James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office).

The questions related to the UK envolvment at the UN level and  on what steps the UN Security Council is taking to hold Morocco to account for reportedly breaching the UN-OAU Settlement Plan in Western Sahara also received non-asnwers.

Cleverly resorted to a non-answer stating that “We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and are in regular contact with the parties including Morocco. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.”

How Cleverly can “closely monitor” a territory to which nobody has access, where the UN mission on the ground doesn’t have human rights included in its mandate and therefore does not produce any reports on the issue (at least not officially), where no missions of the International Red Cross, the UNICEF, the UNESCO are present is a complete mystery, since he also not in touch with any of the Saharawi Human Rights Defenders nor did the Minister met with the representatives of the Polisario Front in the UK.

Mr. Sidi Breika representative of Polisario Front informed us that the Polisario Front calls the United Kingdom Government, as a P5 and a member of the “Group of Friends of Western Sahara” to undertake serious actions aimed at condemning Morocco for illegally breaking the ceasefire agreements, fueling insecurity and instability in Western Sahara, the Maghreb and Sahel volatile regions.

“We ask UK government to put international legality and human rights respect before illegal trade agreements in line with UK High Court and EUCJ sentences. There will be no success through political mechanisms as long as UNSC continues encouraging Morocco to commit gross human rights breaches in absolute impunity.” said Mr. Breika.

Below the questions of the MP’s and answers of Minister Cleverly:

On the 24th of November

2 Questions by MP Navendru Mishra. Labour Party

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make representations to the Moroccan Ambassador on that country’s breach of the 1991 ceasefire agreement with Polisario Front by the sending of troops into the buffer zone between Western Sahara and Mauritania.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will (a) discuss with the Moroccan Ambassador and (b) instruct the HM Ambassador to Morocco to raise with the Moroccan authorities reports of (i) arbitrary detention and (ii) other increased harassment by Moroccan forces of Saharawi in El Aaiun, Western Sahara.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, observe the ceasefire agreement, and return to the UN-led political process as soon as possible.
  • The UK is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, including in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps, as we regularly make clear to the parties.

On the 26th November

1 Question by MP Alex Sobel, Labour Co-op

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Moroccan counterpart on the treatment of the Sahrawi prisoner, Yahya Mohamed Elhafed Iaaza, in Bouzairkarn Prison in Southern Morocco.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • Support for human rights is a priority around the world, including in Morocco, and we raise human rights issues with the Moroccan Government accordingly.

On the 27th November

2 Questions by MP Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymu for Arfon

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the United Nations on the recent escalation in conflict in the Western Saharan region.
  • To ask the Secretary of Statefor Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has he with the Polisario Front or through third party interlocutors on the recent escalation in conflict in the Western Saharan region.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and have regular discussions with the UN, both in New York and in the region. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process. We strongly support the UN Secretary General’s efforts to appoint a Personal Envoy as soon as possible.
  • The UK regularly discusses Western Sahara issues with the parties including the Polisario Front. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.

On the 30th of November

2 Questions by MP Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will make representations to the Moroccan Ambassador to the UK on the repression of Sahrawi civilians in the territories of Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation, as a result of the escalation of the conflict between the Polisario Front and Morocco.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the UN Security Council is taking to hold Morocco to account for reportedly breaching the UN-OAU Settlement Plan in Western Sahara.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process. Support for human rights is a priority around the world, and we raise human rights issues with the Moroccan Government accordingly.
  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and note reports of breaches of the ceasefire by different parties. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.

2 Questions by MP Alan Brown Shadow SNP

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Moroccan counterpart on the military operation started by Morocco in Guerguerat, Western Sahara on 13 November 2020.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Moroccan counterpart with on the house arrest of Saharawi human rights defenders in Morocco.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and in regular contact with the parties including Morocco. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.
  • Support for human rights and human rights defenders is a priority around the world, including in Morocco, and we raise human rights issues with the Moroccan Government accordingly.

On the 1st of December

1 Question by MP Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Morocco on the recent occupation of further territory in the Western Sahara.

Answer of James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office):

  • We are closely monitoring the situation in Western Sahara and are in regular contact with the parties including Morocco. We continue to urge the parties to avoid further escalation, return to the ceasefire agreement, and re-engage with the UN-led political process.