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Yahya Mohamed El Hafed Aaza Imprisoned & Ill-Treated

Status: 
Solitary Confinement
About the situation

On 5 March 2021, the family of human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza were permitted to visit him in Bouzarkarn prison for the first time in a year. The visit only lasted 15 minutes and prison guards were present for the entirety.

Sahrawi human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza has been held in solitary confinement for almost 12 weeks and his health has deteriorated rapidly as a result of the inhumane conditions in which he is being detained.

On 9 December 2020, human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza called his family for the first time after being disappeared for almost two months. He informed his family that he is being detained in Bouzarkarn prison, south of Morocco.

Since 13 October 2020, the whereabouts of human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza remain unknown. Neither his family or lawyer have been able to locate or contact the imprisoned human rights defender and are deeply concerned regarding his well being and the health.

About Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza

YAHYA MOHAMED EL HAFED AAZAYahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is a Sahrawi human rights defender and co-founder of the Saharawi Collective of Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). He also served as president for the collective branch in Tan Tan province, where his work focused on the political rights of Sahrawi prisoners. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is known as the 'father' amongst political prisoners, for his work in supporting newly imprisoned activists and helping them survive prison conditions.

11 Março 2021
Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza permitted first family visit in one year

On 5 March 2021, the family of human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza were permitted to visit him in Bouzarkarn prison for the first time in a year. The visit only lasted 15 minutes and prison guards were present for the entirety. His wife and son reported that the human rights defender appeared to be in bad physical condition, requiring an oxygen nebulizer and was transferred to a wheelchair as he was unable to walk by himself.

6 Janeiro 2021
Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza detained in inhumane conditions

Sahrawi human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza has been held in solitary confinement for almost 12 weeks and his health has deteriorated rapidly as a result of the inhumane conditions in which he is being detained.

Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is a Sahrawi human rights defender and co-founder of the Saharawi Collective of Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). He also served as president of the CODESA branch in Tan Tan province, where his work focused on the political rights of Sahrawi prisoners. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is regarded as a father figure amongst political prisoners for his work in supporting newly imprisoned activists and helping them survive prison conditions.

On 9 December 2020,Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza called his family for the first time after being disappeared for almost two months. He informed them that he is being detained in Bouzarkarn prison, in the south of Morocco. Between 13 October and 9 December, the whereabouts of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza were unknown. The human rights defender is now permitted to use the phone three times a week for a couple of minutes each time. In a recent call, he informed his family about the poor prison conditions to which is he being subjected. The human rights defender has been held in solitary confinement for almost twelve weeks and has been denied medical treatment. His asthma has been aggravated by unhygienic conditions while the rheumatism that he suffers has also been aggravated by his lack of movement as a result of the ban on leaving his cell. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed also suffers from kidney disease, which has been left untreated for a prolonged period of time.

Most detainees in the prison rely on support from their families who provide money so they can buy food from the prison shop. which they can then cook for themselves. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is forced to eat the prison food, which is served in very small portions. He has not been permitted to receive food or money from his family. Furthermore, the human rights defender has been denied access to most of his belongings. On 23 December 2020, the prison director visited Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza in his cell and ordered the confiscation of his TV and radio. The prison director also told the human rights defender that he would not be granted any form of medical treatment nor be allowed to visit the hospital. Upon leaving the cell, the defender reported that the prison director threatened him by saying, “I will kill you”. Moreover, on 24 December the prison director cut off the electricity to Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza’s cell. The human rights defender fell two times during the night as his cell was in total darkness.

Front Line Defenders believes that Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the health and well being of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza and the precarious situation of the Sahrawi human rights defenders who face continuous harassment from the Moroccan authorities. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Morocco to ensure that the treatment of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988. Front Line Defenders also urges the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza, and quash his prison sentence.

11 Dezembro 2020
Human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza located

On 9 December 2020, human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza called his family for the first time after being disappeared for almost two months. He informed his family that he is being detained in Bouzarkarn prison, south of Morocco.

Between 13 October and 9 December, the whereabouts of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza were unknown. In 2008, he was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for organising a demonstration in Tan Tan.

18 Novembro 2020
Whereabouts of imprisoned human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza unknown

Since 13 October 2020, the whereabouts of human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza remain unknown. Neither his family or lawyer have been able to locate or contact the imprisoned human rights defender and are deeply concerned regarding his well being and the health.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is a Sahrawi human rights defender and co-founder of the Saharawi Collective of Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). He also served as president for the collective branch in Tan Tan province, where his work focused on the political rights of Sahrawi prisoners. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is known as the 'father' amongst political prisoners, for his work in supporting newly imprisoned activists and helping them survive prison conditions.

On 13 October 2020, human rights defender Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza was transferred from his cell in Bouzairkarn prison to an unknown location and has not been heard from him since. Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza reported that, on 9 October 2020, he was detained in a cell with a prisoner who tested positive of COVID-19. Both Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza’s family and lawyer are deeply concerned about his whereabouts, health and well being.

In 2008, Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for organising a demonstration in Tan Tan, during which a Moroccan policeman was killed. Even though the human rights defender was not present at this demonstration, he was subsequently convicted for organising it. According to his lawyer, the evidence used against Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza was obtained during his torture by the Moroccan police. He was also denied his right to due process, including his right to present evidence of his own innocence.

Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza has been detained in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions that do not adhere to international human rights standards. During his detention he has gone on several hunger strikes in protest against the inhuman conditions and the ill-treatment inside Bouzairkarn prison.

Sahrawi human rights defenders continue to face harassment by Moroccan authorities for their peaceful human rights work. On 16 November 2020, Moroccan Special forces stormed the houses of human rights defenders Mohamed Hadi and Al-Sharif Khalail in an attempt to detain them. The attempt failed as both of the human rights defenders were not home at the time. Mohamed Hadi and Al-Sharif Khalail work with the Nushatta Foundation for Media and Human Rights. During the raid on their homes, Moroccan special forces reportedly verbally abused the families of the human rights defenders and threatened to detain them.

Front Line Defenders believes that Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned regarding the well being and health condition of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza and the precarious situation of the Sahrawi human rights defenders’ who face continuous harassment from the Moroccan authorities.