NGOs warn about appalling state of Sahrawi Gdeim Izik prisoners

Chahid El Hafed (Sahrawi refugee camps), Oct 11, 2017 (SPS) - More than 100 NGOs demanded in an open letter from the President of the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) to send delegates to the Sahrawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik, sentenced to heavy penalties by a Moroccan court last July in a trial,  deemed unjust and contrary to international law.


The open letter has been signed by 101 NGOs and associations, notably the National Committee of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (CNASPS), Adala UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), the US Association of Jurists (AAJ), the Association of Friends of the Sahrawi People in the Balearic Islands of Spain, the International Bureau for the respect of Liberties and human rights in Western Sahara (BIRDHSO), the for the respect of Liberties and human rights in Western Sahara (CORELSO) and the Foundation France liberties and the Movement against racism and for the friendship among peoples (MRAP).


"The ICRC has been solicited on numerous occasions and we are always answered" yes ", but today we are calling for the ICRC to fulfill its mission towards the 19 Sahrawi activists who have been unjustly imprisoned for seven years in Moroccan prisons," said Gianfranco Fattorini of the American Association of Jurists (AAJ) on Monday in Geneva.


In collaboration with the International Bureau for Human Rights in Western Sahara, the NGO sent an open letter to ICRC President Peter Maurer demanding for a delegation to visit these prisoners, sentenced by a Moroccan court last July to heavy prison sentences, following a trial deemed unjust by human rights organizations and defenders of the Western Sahara case, occupied by Morocco for more than 40 years.

The ICRC "is worried about the fate of these prisoners," said the AAJ.


Western Sahara is considered since 1963 - the end of the Spanish colonization- as a non-self-governing territory by the United Nations.  In 1979, the UN General Assembly stated that it is a territory occupied by Morocco.


As a result, Western Sahara is under specific protection of the international humanitarian law.

The 19 Sahrawi political prisoners had been arrested following the forced and violent evacuation of the Gdeim Izik protest camp in Western Sahara on 8 November 2010. The activists, including several prominent figures, have always claimed their innocence, and guilt has not been established, according to many civil society organizations.SPS