Dear Members of the UN Human Rights Council,
Adala UK and the other signatory organisations to this letter want to express our deep concern and urge you as member countries of the UN and the Human Rights Council to vote against Morocco’s candidacy for the presidency of the Council for the next session in 2024.
Morocco has operated outside of its internationally recognised borders since 1975, acting as an illegal military occupation force in Western Sahara. It has enforced its control over the territory with oppressive security methods and an horrific police siege, whilst simultaneously ignoring international treaties. It continues a systematic process of impoverishment of and discrimination towards the Saharawi people in the occupied areas of Western Sahara, alongside the use of continued repression by the Moroccan authorities against their own journalists, civic activists and political opponents.
The practices outlined above are not limited to the Saharawi people or the Moroccan people, but also affect immigrants from other African countries. For instance, dozens of immigrants died last year in the Melilla massacre at the hands of the Moroccan police and gendarmerie forces.
Morocco has one of the most abusive governments. We therefore urge the member countries of the UNHRC not to reward Morocco with seats on the Human Rights Council. Morocco has committed massive violations at home whilst continuing to undermine the international human rights systems of which they claim to be a part.
Adala UK highlights the reports published by United Nations experts that warn of serious violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara including attacks against activists, journalists and citizens.
Saharawi human rights activitists who defend the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara are subject to systematic persecution, harassment and imprisonment by the Moroccan authorities. For years, the UN Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have reported a systematic use of force against the Saharawi population in Western Sahara, highlighting that Saharawis who defend the right to self-determination are subjected to comprehensive police violence, kidnappings, torture and arbitrary arrests and detentions.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that protesters in Western Sahara are being prosecuted in response to their support for the right to self-determination in Opinion Numbers 39/1996, 4/1996, 11/2017, 31/2018, 58/2018 and 60/2018. The UN Committee against Torture in a similar vein confirmed the use of torture and forcing Sahrawi citizens to sign confessions under torture (CAT/C/59/D /606/2014). The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals has on several occasions sent communications to the Moroccan Government expressing his concern about acts of reprisals against Saharawi prisoners and citizens for their cooperation with the United Nations (G/SO 229/31 MAR(8)).
Reports submitted by the United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty bodies document how Saharawi human rights defenders who openly defend the right to self-determination are subjected to political persecution by Moroccan authorities. United Nations reports also document that the Kingdom of Morocco is not willing to protect Saharawis considered sympathetic to the Western Sahara cause.
Adala UK reiterates to you that, despite Moroccan propaganda claiming to respect human rights, the government continues to act against human rights defenders and dissidents and shows little accountability for past and current crimes, including the murder of Saharawi citizens. The signatory NGOs of this letter consider that Morocco’s candidacy would make a mockery of the UN system. We believe that Morocco wishes to use the presidency of the Human Rights Council to avoid scrutiny of its abuses.
We urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to reject Morocco’s candidacy for the presidency of the Council for the next session in 2024, citing Morocco’s horrific human rights record, as well as the fact that it is a country that militarily occupies Western Sahara.