Annual Report: Morocco and Western Sahara 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Morocco and Western Sahara 2010

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  • Seven Sahrawi activists who visited the Tindouf camps in Algeria run by the Polisario Front were arrested on their return to Morocco on 8 October and referred for trial before the military court in Rabat. They included human rights defenders Brahim Dahane and Ali Salem Tamek, and Dakja Lashgar, a former victim of enforced disappearance. They were charged with threatening state security, including Morocco's "territorial integrity". They were still detained awaiting trial at the end of the year.
  • On 27 August, Ennaâma Asfari, co-president of the Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Western Sahara, who lives in France, was sentenced to four months in prison and a fine for "contempt" of public officials on duty. His codefendant, Ali El-Rubia, received a suspended prison term and a fine. Both alleged that they were assaulted by police during arrest on 14 August.
  • On 14 November, on her return to Laayoune from abroad, human rights defender Aminatou Haidar was expelled from the airport to the Canary Islands for allegedly renouncing her citizenship. She was allowed to return on 17 December, having spent over a month on hunger strike in Lanzarote airport to protest against her expulsion. The authorities restricted the movement of Sahrawi activists and human rights defenders, preventing them from observing trials, documenting violations and meeting foreigners. Some were banned from travelling abroad and had their identification and travel documents confiscated.
  • In October, the authorities prevented five Sahrawi activists from travelling to Mauritania and confiscated their travel and identification documents without providing any reason for the travel ban. Dozens of Sahrawis were prosecuted on violent conduct charges in connection with demonstrations held in 2009 or previous years; the court proceedings reportedly failed to satisfy international standards of fair trial. Some Sahrawis who advocated independence for Western Sahara were harassed and beaten by Moroccan security forces.

Al-Adl wal-Ihsan members

Members of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan continued to face harassment. The group's spokesperson, Nadia Yassine, had been awaiting trial since 2005 for allegedly defaming the monarchy. Her trial was again postponed, to January 2010.

  • In February, security forces assaulted Hakima Moaadab Aloui, a member of Al-Adlwal-Ihsan,when they raided the office in Témara of the Tanwir Association, whose membership includes Al-Adlwal-Ihsan activists. In December, the general prosecution decided that there was not enough evidence to press charges against a government official she had accused of beating her.

Counter-terror and security

In September, the official state news agency reported that a "terrorist" network had been broken up and 24 suspects arrested. Some suspects were reported to have been detained by officials of the Directorate for Surveillance of the Territory, a security force implicated in torturing and otherwise ill-treating detainees in previous years. Some of the detainees were held incommunicado for several weeks and in some cases their families were not officially informed of their arrest and whereabouts.