March 18, 2021

Sahrawi woman activist Sultana Khaya, and several members of her family, have been held under a de facto house arrest for months in their home in Boujdour, Western Sahara. The authorities have yet to present any charges against her. Security service agents are regularly stationed in front of their home, preventing the family from leaving the house and people, including relatives, from visiting them. On numerous occasions, Sultana Khaya and her family have been physically attacked by police when they tried to leave their home, resulting in serious injuries to Sultana Khaya and her sister. The authorities must immediately lift the arbitrary house arrest of Sultana Khaya and her family.



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Mr.Saad Eddine El Othmani
Head of Government of the Kingdom of Morocco
Palais Royal Touarga
Rabat 10070, Morocco
Fax: +212537771010
Twitter: @ChefGov_ma
Her Highness Princess Lalla Joumala
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
3508 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202 462 7979 I Fax: 202 462 7643
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @morocco_usa
Salutation: Your Highness


Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my grave concern about the arbitrary house arrest of Sahrawi activist Sultana Khaya, and several members of her family, including her sister Waraa Khaya.

Since November 19, 2020, security forces agents- in both uniform and plain-clothes- have been stationed outside the Khaya family house. On numerous occasions, when Sultana Khaya or other members of the family tried to go out, walking just a few meters from the house, security forces confronted them and pushed them violently back inside. The security forces often blocked their supporters from entering their street, sometimes using arbitrary and abusive force. Relatives were allowed only on a few limited occasions to bring food and medical supplies to Sultana Khaya’s family home. Security forces have severely assaulted Sultana Khaya, members of her family and their visitors. On one occasion in February 2021, her sister, Waraa Khaya said that, when realising that they were not filmed anymore, four security forces beat her by throwing her against a big iron door. The assaults left Sultana Khaya and Waraa Khaya with wounds and bruises all over their bodies.

From the start of her house arrest, the authorities have failed to present Sultana with an arrest warrant or a court order, or to inform her of the reason for her arrest. She was only told verbally, by the head of the police forces in Boujdour, that she was forbidden from leaving her house.

This unlawful detention is part of a wider crackdown by the Moroccan authorities on Sahrawi activists and critical voices within Western Sahara, which escalated following clashes between Morocco and the Polisario Front in November 2020. Sultana Khaya is known for her vocal peaceful activism in favour of Sahrawi self-determination. Her and her family’s prolonged house arrest amounts to arbitrary detention, as it imposes an undue restriction on their rights to freedom of movement and association.

In light of the above, I urge you to end the arbitrary house arrest against Sultana Khaya and her family and respect their right to freedom of movement, expression, and association. I urge you to put an end to the assaults that Sultana Khaya and her family are subjected to, open an investigation into the security forces’ arbitrary and abusive force against her and her family, and provide them with adequate reparation for the violation of their right to liberty and other harm suffered.