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The issue of the status of Western Sahara remains unresolved, despite ongoing negotiations between the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front. The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), established in 1991, has been extended but continues to have no human rights monitoring component. The dispute over self determination created deep political and security related tensions throughout the Sahara area and affects all aspects of life, including the work of human rights defenders.
Sahrawi human rights defenders continued to be subjected to intimidation, harassment, questioning, arrest, incommunicado detention, and unfair trials. In April 2012, six human rights defenders and members of the Western Sahara Organisation Against Torture were sentenced to three years in prison for what are believed to be fabricated charges. They were being held incommunicado in police custody following their arrest, and they denounced that evidence used in their trial was obtained under duress.
The right to freedom of assembly remains severely restricted. Permission to hold public gatherings is often denied and demonstrations dispersed by force. Participants, including human rights defenders, have been beaten, arrested or otherwise intimidated. In February 2011, a number of human rights defenders were attacked by police while taking part in a peaceful demonstration calling for democratic and social reform and human rights. Many of them were denied medical treatment.
None of the Sahara’s human rights groups is legally registered. Human rights groups are generally viewed by the authorities as supporters of self-determination or “separatists”. Some of these groups have tried to register but with no success.
Harassment against HRDs has also included dismissal from work or the freezing of social welfare benefits.
16 April 2013
26 November 2012
05 September 2012
25 March 2012
02 December 2011
22 August 2012
08 November 2010
21 May 2010
16 November 2009
04 January 2007
Western Sahara: Trial and sentencing of human rights defenders Mr Atiqu Barrai, Mr Kamal Al Tarayh, Mr Abd Al Aziz Barrai, Mr Al Mahjoub Awlad Al Cheih, Mr Mohamed Manolo and Mr Hasna Al Wali
Western Sahara: Arrest, detention and fear of torture and ill-treatment of human rights defender Mr Hasna Al Wali
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