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UN concerned about violations and arbitrary detention of members of a Sahrawi organization in Morocco  

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News briefing  

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice  

Geneva, 12 August 2021  

Violations since inception:

The experts explained in their memorandum sent to the Moroccan government on June 10, 2021, which has not yet been responded to, that the Sahrawi body against the Moroccan occupation (l’Instance Sahraouie Contre l’Occupation Marocaine, ISACOM), is a body that defends the rights of the people of Western Sahara to independence/self-determination, and calls for the release of detained Sahrawi prisoners in Morocco.  

The memorandum touched on the violations committed against the following human rights defenders: Sultana Khaya, Laura Khaya, El Ghalia Djeim, Mina Baali, Babouzid Mohamed Said Lebihi, Aslak Badir, Khaled Boufriwa, Hassan Aba, Lahcen Dalil, Laroussi Lafkar, and Mbarkati Abdel Al-Karim is superior to a believer, Hamad Hammad, and Al-Maati Munjib.  

The experts stated that on September 20, 2020, ISACOM was established and received national and international media coverage.  

The experts added that on September 29, the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Laayoune opened an investigation into ISACOM and its creation, and in the announcement, the Public Prosecutor allegedly threatened to imprison the members of the organization on the grounds that its activities threaten the “territorial integrity” of the Kingdom of Morocco. Since its establishment, members and founders of the organization have reportedly been subjected to increasing and intense harassment and threats from the Moroccan authorities.  

UN concerns about violations:  

The experts expressed their grave concern regarding reported information of acts of harassment, physical and sexual assault, acts of intimidation and death threats against these human rights defenders, the continued presence of security personnel in front of the home of activist Sultana Khia, since November 2020, and severe restrictions on her freedom of movement as a result of this presence, and the impact on her physical and psychological safety, and the threats of death.   

The experts also expressed their deep concerns about the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of Maati Monjib, and the charges against him, allegedly in retaliation for his journalistic activities. If confirmed, these allegations would conflict with the responsibility of states to guarantee the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  

UN demands from Morocco:  

The experts called on the Moroccan government to determine the legal basis for the continued presence of police, security and cars in front of the house of Sultana Khia, since November 2020, preventing her and her family from leaving the house, and the threats and raids that were made against members of the organization.  

The experts also requested Morocco to provide information regarding the investigation into the organization and its establishment, which was launched on September 29, 2020, and the reasons for the start of this investigation.  

The experts also called on the Moroccan authorities to indicate the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders, including members of civil society, are able to work in an enabling environment that allows them to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of harassment and stigmatization and for their physical integrity, or criminalization of any kind.   

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