The UN Security Council must extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission to Western Sahara so that it can monitor and protect human rights, an all-party group of British MPs said today (3 April)
The call comes in the report of the first ever British parliamentary delegation to the Occupied Territory of Western Sahara, released two weeks before the UN Security Council’s scheduled debate on the issue.
The delegation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara visited the Occupied Territory of Western Sahara from 13 to 16 February 2014, and heard of a sustained pattern of human rights violations suffered by the indigenous Saharawi people at the hands of the occupying Moroccan forces.
The delegation consisted of Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour), Mark Williams MP (Liberal Democrat), John Gurr, coordinator of the Western Sahara Campaign, and John Hilary, executive director of War on Want.
The delegation also heard from the head of the UN peacekeeping mission to Western Sahara, MINURSO, that his staff are unable to monitor or report on human rights violations until so mandated by the Security Council.
The delegation witnessed first hand the Moroccan police’s suppression of the right to peaceful assembly when uniformed and plainclothes officers attacked demonstrators calling for the MINURO mandate to be extended.
The UN Security Council will meet on 17 April 2014 to discuss the situation in Western Sahara and to debate a proposal to extend MINURSO’s mandate to include the monitoring and protection of human rights.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara, said: “The people of the Western Sahara have been under occupation since 1975; there is an enormous and repressive police and army presence, and 100,000 remain in refugee camps in the desert in Algeria. MINURSO has a mandate to keep the ceasefire and prevent war; this must be extended to examine and represent all aspects of human rights affecting the Western Sahara, including the camps in Algeria. For too long the injustice has been ignored and it is time to act.”