In September, Adala UK was one of eight signatories to the Alternative Report on the occasion of the UN Human Rights Committee’s 2016 Report on the Kingdom of Morocco’s implementation of the ICCPR. The Alternative Report provided an analysis of the legal and historical framework that should guide the Committee’s review. It furthermore noted violations relating to a number of ICCPR articles by Morocco in the non self-governing territory of Western Sahara, and asked the Committee to adopt a list of recommendations in its report’s Concluding Observations.
The Committee met on 24-25 October 2016 and has since published its 6th review report. Although this report should have been published years ago, Adala UK nevertheless welcomes the Committee’s strong criticism of the human rights situation in Morocco, particularly with regards to Western Sahara. The report positively mentions the Moroccan initiative to negotiate autonomy status for Western Sahara, but at the same time criticises the very limited progress on this, the lack of consultation with the Western Saharan people with regards to exploitation of natural resources, as well as the presence of the wall, which divides the territory of Western Sahara and severely limits the free movement of people, particularly due to the presence of life-threatening landmines in the entire area. It contains strong recommendations to Morocco to make improvements in all of these areas.
Furthermore, the report addresses the issues of the continued practice of torture and maltreatment, and enforced disappearances, both in Morocco and in Western Sahara, with strong recommendations for the Moroccan state to do more to put an end to these. The report also highlights the inadequate conditions in Moroccan prisons, which are characterised by significant over-population. Moreover, almost half of all prisoners have not yet been convicted and received an official sentence.
Other rights which are severely restricted in Morocco and in particular Western Sahara, according to the report, are the rights to privacy and private communication. Freedom of association and all activities in defence of human rights are also severely restricted.
Adala UK has repeatedly reported evidence of all of the above human rights violations and we hope that this long overdue report will lead to stronger actions by the international community. Strong demands need to be placed on Morocco to grant these fundamental rights to the people of Western Sahara.