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Ahmed Sbaai

HRD, founder
Sahrawi League for the Protection of Political Prisoners

Ahmed Sbaai is a human rights defender who was born in 1978. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Appeals Court in Salé in 2017. Ahmed Sbaai is one of the founders of the Sahrawi League for the Protection of Political Prisoners inside Moroccan jails and was imprisoned both in 2002 and in 2006 for his activism. Ahmed Sbaai stated at the Appeals Court that he had been arrested on 8 December 2010, during a family party in the Lirak neighbourhood. The human rights defender was subsequently beaten and intimidated during his interrogation. Ahmed Sbaai claims that he was kept blindfolded and handcuffed until he was referred to the Military Court of Rabat. He claims to have confessed under torture, and that this declaration was used as the main piece of evidence against him. Ahmed Sbaai was present in the Gdeim Izik camp on 8 November and testified in court on the brutal dismantling of the camp.

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.

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.