Morocco’s 2017 Universal Periodic Review

The UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process all UN member states must take part in every four years as a review of their human rights record and an opportunity for other member states to make recommendations as to improvements the country under review can make. NGOs take part in the reporting process prior to the review to submit evidence regarding the human rights record of the country under review.  Continue reading

17 year old child arrested and beaten by Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara

A Moroccan police patrol arrested 17 year old Souayah Dahi on the Sharif Radi Avenue in the Zemla neighbourhood in the capital of Western Sahara due to his participation in a protest in solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners held in Moroccan prisons. Dahi has been punished for exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

A group of plain clothes police officers dragged the young man down the street and then took him away in an armoured vehicle to an unknown location. This was whilst several other cars brutally intervened against a peaceful demonstration, a witness told Adala UK.

“Three of them grabbed him by both arms and dragged him to an armoured car as they beat him. Some neighbours and people on the street were trying to rescue him from the hands of the youngest of the officers, and one man approached one of the officers and asked them to leave the boy alone. The officers refused, and one of them said “we are going to take him somewhere to reeducate him”.

Other witnesses said that Souayah Dahi trembled with fear. “We saw him talk to the officers and tell them that he did not throw stones, but that did not help. The officers dragged him off and got him into an armoured car belonging to the Moroccan police. I do not know if they beat Souayah Dahi in the car or not, I do not know what happened inside because you cannot see anything inside the car.”

According to the testimony of the witness “Souayah Dahi had been beaten at the place of arrest before he was forced by plain clothes and uniformed officers to get into an armoured car.”
Dahi also confirmed that he was subjected to ill-treatment, and physical and verbal abuse whilst in the police car before being taken to the general police headquarters in the occupied city of El Aiuún.

“Inside the police headquarters, they hit me hard on the feet and hands and other parts of my body, and I was interrogated at the same time. An officer slapped me in the face and asked me to give the names of those who were with me and those who were throwing stones” Dahi added.
In this video we can see that Dahi was the victim of physical violence and humiliating and degrading practices, which caused him injuries and bruises all over his body, mainly on his back (see video).


Mohammed Asaid Ohamiad, aged 12, was arrested on 13 April after being chased by a Moroccan police armoured vehicle that carried uniformed and plain clothes officers. Mohammed took refuge in a neighbour’s house but the agents at the door of the house and entered without a warrant. The young man was transferred to the police station in the same neighbourhood. Mohamed Said was subjected to physical and psychological torture. The authorities did not contact any members of his family. Mohamed’s family were I formed by other neighbours of their son’s detention, after which family members gathered in front of the police station. Mohamed was released. The young man was covered in bruises and it was clear he had been subjected to physical maltreatment.


In the month of April, members of Adala UK in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara confirm that the following young people have been arrested by the Moroccan forces:
Hamza 17 years old, Hamza Labhaih 14 years old, Aziz Finido 15 years old and Omar Ambairkat 12 years old. All were subjected to arbitrary detention, physical and mental torture and other maltreatments.


Under international law, any person under the age of 18 is a child, and children suspected of having committed a crime must be treated in accordance with the rules of the juvenile justice system and must be accompanied by a legal representative at all times. Dahi was detained for more than six hours without anyone from his family or a legal representative being notified by the authorities. Dahi was released at 4:00am on 12 April.

Since 2013 Adala UK has collected many testimonies from children who have been victims of violence at the hands of the Moroccan police in the Occupied Territories if Western Sahara. Hundreds of interviews testify to the barbarism of the occupation, the crimes and the ordinary humiliation experienced by Sahrawi children in the occupied cities. In our report submitted to the UN for the Universal Periodic Review of the Kingdom of Morocco, ‘UPR 2017’, we have compiled overwhelming evidence regarding the violence and serious human rights violations to which Sahrawi children are subjected. Persistent suspicions, arbitrary arrests, physical ill-treatment and even being fired at with live ammunition also affect children as in the case of Najem El Garhi. Sahrawi children are repressed by the Moroccan occupation forces, arrested, beaten and tortured. Many Sahrawi children are left traumatised, marked by the horror and terror caused by the Moroccan forces in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara.

Our research has shown that most Sahrawi children are taken to interrogation centres with their hands tied, beaten and deprived of their minimum rights. All of the children detained who were interviewed by Adala UK suffered some type of physical violence between the time of their arrest and interrogation.

Adala UK urges Morocco to take concrete and immediate measures to protect children, in particular by ensuring accountability for all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child during arrests and the brutal intervention against the peaceful protests of the Sahrawi population.
The State of Morocco must respect and ensure the proper application of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and International Humanitarian Law in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara.

Adala UK also reiterates its call to the international community and the UN to deploy impartial observers to the Occupied Territories to ensure the protection of the human rights of the people of Western Sahara. It is vital for people living in Western Sahara that this coming April the United Nations Security Council include a human rights monitoring mandate in MINURSO. This would represent a step forward in addressing human rights violations in Western Sahara.

Support Western Sahara Action Forum – Write to the UN

We are joining forces with Western Sahara Action Forum (WSAF) and the global solidarity movement to write to the UN Security Council ahead of the annual vote to renew MINURSO at the end of April.

See below for the call to action from WSAF:

CRACKS OPENING IN MOROCCO’S POSITION ON WESTERN SAHARA

Events of the last year have weakened Morocco’s political position, and give hope for progress towards ending the conflict:
· The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU-Morocco trade agreement does not include Western Sahara – weakening Morocco’s economic hold.
· Morocco re-joined the African Union, tacitly admitting that its boycott of the AU over the inclusion of Western Sahara has not worked.
· Morocco’s aggressive violation of the ceasefire by sending its forces into the neutral ‘buffer zone’ backfired, when the UN forced it to withdraw.

Whilst the above raises cautious optimism, Morocco continues to oppress the rights of Saharawi men, women and children. In January an 11-year old boy was detained for drawing a Western Sahara flag, and 24 Saharawi juveniles were detained in relation to political protests in the last quarter of 2016.

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Adala UK: Morocco continues to violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Western Sahara  

Every day, and in countless ways, Sahrawi children’s rights are violated by the Moroccan forces in Western Sahara. None of the children who find themselves in the vicinity of the regular peaceful demonstrations that take place in the Occupied Territories to demand the Sahrawis’ right to self-determination, is ever to young to be safe from police violence.

On 29th March 2017, Alkanti Alalaoui, a 12-year-old boy who is deaf and has a laerning disability, from the Lahshaisha neighbourhood in El Aiun, was detained by Moroccan forces whilst he was sitting in the door of his house. Alkanti was savagely beaten before being forced into a car belonging to the Moroccan forces (reg. number 147142). One of the police officers hit his era, where he had already been beaten in the past, causing his disability. The beating also caused injuries to Alkanti’s face and other parts of his body.

The detention took place when a group of young people was throwing stones at a Moroccan blindado car was chased by the police. The car had previously intervened in a peaceful demonstration.

Alkanti was taken to an unknown location in the police car. His family home was attacked with stones by the police officers. A few minutes later, a large number of neighbours came together to show solidarity with the boy’s family. After two hours of protest, another police car appeared at the house to negotiate with the family, asking them to break up the protesters, as well as asking them not to make a formal complaint about the attack against the boy.

In answer to the mother’s plead to tell her where her child was and accusing them of human rights violations, the agents only answered that they were not the ones responsible for the child’s beating and arrest, and that those who had done that were not present. He said they had come to make the mother promise not to present a formal complaint, which the mother rejected – see video:


A few minute later, the police car who had taken the boy reappeared, releasing the boy in a critical state and clearly very disturbed.
On 30th March, the mother told Adala UK activists that her son was suffering psychologically, and had been waking up throughout the night screaming. The mother made a formal complaint about the police agents who had beaten and abducted Alkati, although these kinds of complaints are never investigated.

In November 2016, Adala UK presented a report on the abuse of children’s rights in Western Sahara to the UN (ref.). This highlights that the arrest, transfer and interrogation of children without the presence of their parents is a clear violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Morocco is a signatory. By ignoring these facts on the international stage, the UN and the whole international community continue to fail the Sahrawi people. Adala UK therefore calls on the UN and the international community to send observers to the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara to help guarantee the human rights of the Sahrawi people.

Adala UK further urges the Moroccan government to end its policy of impunity for violations committed by its own forces against Sahrawi citizens, and particularly against children.

Adala UK: alarming increase of repression of demonstrations in Western Sahara

Last Thursday 23 March, a group of unemployed individuals demonstrated peacefully in Laayoune, in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara. In view of the brutal repression with which the Moroccan forces responded to the demonstrators, Adala UK demands that the Moroccan authorities carry out complete, impartial and independent investigation of the human rights abuses committed and that all liable individuals are brought to justice. Continue reading

Western Sahara: Limiting freedom of expression – the case of Salah Labsir

Salah Labsir is from the city of Smara in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. His family still lives there. Between 2005 – 2013 he worked as a media correspondent. At the same time, he actively participated in peaceful demonstrations for the self-determination of Western Sahara. His political opinions are the reason why he started to be persecuted by the Moroccan regime, including forceful entry to his parents’ house on several occasions.

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ADALA UK TAKES PART IN HIGH-LEVEL SIDE-EVENT ON WESTERN SAHARA DURING 34TH SESSION OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN GENEVA

The first-ever side-event on Western Sahara was hosted by the Support Group on Western Sahara on Wednesday 1st March 2017 during the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The meeting was moderated by Mr Gianfranco Fattorini of the American Association of Jurists (AAJ).

dsc_0714The Namibian Ambassador, Sabine Böhlke-Müller, opened the proceedings and welcomed the attendees. The ambassador noted that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had stated in his address to the Human Rights Council opening the 34th Session that prevention of human rights abuses should be a priority for the Council. Yet some 50 years after the General Assembly recognised the need for a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara, and some 25 years after the setting up of MINURSO, the people of Western Sahara have yet to make use of their right to self-determination. Continue reading