Isabel Lourenço, a Portuguese human rights activist, member of Adala UK, and international observer, accredited by the Western Sahara Foundation, was prevented by the Moroccan authorities to enter the occupied Western Sahara.
Isabel Lourenço was planning to attend the trial of a Saharawi political prisoner, journalist from SADR TV, Mahmoud El Haisan, as an international observer. However, upon her arrival at El Aiun airport, Ms Lourenço, who is considered persona non grata, was assaulted and forced to board the plane again and travel back to Casablanca. The United Nations Mission MINURSO (Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara) was aware of her visit and the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through the Emergency Consular Office), as well as the Portuguese Embassy in Rabat have been informed of the events.
The Moroccan authorities regularly expel foreign citizens from Western Sahara without justification to prevent them from talking to Saharawi organizations and activists about what is happening in the Occupied Territories. Last week, four Spanish activists and a French journalist were also expelled from Western Sahara. Since the beginning of 2014, more than fifty foreigners have been expelled. Many of these had their passports confiscated for several hours; they were intimidated and photographed after being forced into police cars, taxis or planes.