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RFK to John Kerry: Moroccan human rights record should be diplomatic priority for U.S.

Washington, Nov 7, 2013 (SPS) - Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has called on the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, to put the Moroccan Government’s human rights record at the top of the U.S. government’s diplomatic priority, asking him to urge, during his visit to Morocco, Moroccan government to accept a human rights mandate for MINURSO.

In a letter addressed Thursday by RFK President Ms. Kerry Kennedy to the U.S. Secretary of State on the eve of his visit to Morocco and Moroccan King’s visit to Washington, RFK Center asked to urge the Moroccan government “to accept a human rights mandate for MINURSO and to accede to the long-promised referendum to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise their right to self-determination.”

The letter recalled that Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975, despite that the UN and the large majority of countries have never recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the area, adding that referendum allowing the Sahrawi people the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination “has not been fulfilled.”

It, therefore, underlined that many crimes of the past remain “unsolved,” highlighting, in this respect, that recently mass graves of victims of the Moroccan occupation in the 1970s were discovered in Western Sahara by Spanish anthropologists.

“MINURSO is the only UN peacekeeping mission created since 1978 that does not include a mandate to track and report violations of human rights,” stated the letter, underlying that Morocco “has continuously blocked the creation of such a mechanism.”

The letter, on other hand, indicated that RFK Center listened, during their visit to Western Sahara and the refugee camps in Algeria, to first-hand accounts of numerous human rights violations perpetrated by the Moroccan state, as well as direct reports of enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, police brutality, intimidation, surveillance, and beatings from many Sahrawi victims.

These abuses, added Ms. Kennedy, continue unabated, in part, because there is no international group or mechanism on the ground to monitor violations. (SPS)

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