Posted 2012/1/9

Western Sahara: Arrest, detention and fear of torture and ill-treatment of human rights defender Mr Hasna Al Wali

Hasna Al WaliHasna Al Wali

On 6 January 2012, at 10am, human rights defender Mr Hasna Al Wali was arrested in the city of Dakhla by uniformed and plain clothes officers from the Moroccan Judiciary Police.

The police stated that an arrest warrant had been issued against him. He was then taken to a police detention centre in the city where he was held incommunicado before being transferred the following day to Alkuhl prison in the city of El-Ayoun. Hasna Al Wali is an adviser of the Organisation Against Torture in Dakhla, and had been sought by the police since the violent disturbances in Dakhla during the last week of September 2011, which had already led to the arrest and detention of five human rights defenders. Front Line Defenders issued appeals on their arrest on 6 October and 25 November 2011.

Hasna Al Wali is being detained pending interrogation by an investigating magistrate. It is feared that he may be tortured and ill-treated in detention to force him to incriminate himself under duress. Front Line Defenders has received information about the torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders Messrs Kamal Al Tarayh, Abd Al Aziz Barrai, Al Mahjoub Awlad Al Cheih, Mohamed Manolo and Atiqu Barrai, who were arrested in Dakhla in October and November 2011. They were reportedly beaten while held incommunicado in police custody, and forced to sign documents incriminating them under duress. At least two of the detainees had fallen ill since their arrest and Kamal Al Tarayh was admitted on 29 December 2011 to Hasan Ben Al Mahdi Hospital in the city of El-Ayoun suffering from severe back pain. Al Mahjoub Awlad Al Cheih is also reported to be suffering from back pain but has not been taken to hospital or provided with medical care.

The arrest of Hasna Al Wali is part of an ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Western Sahara. Front Line Defenders believes that his arrest and detention are directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, particularly with regard to his advocacy in favour of the self-determination of Moroccan-administered Western Sahara.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity and security of Hasna Al Wali, particularly considering that he may be at risk of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

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