Worldwide appeal for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara
Over 100 organisations and high profile individuals, including Frank Ruddy, former Deputy Chairman of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), have signed an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calling for human rights monitoring to be included in MINURSO's mandate. Other signatories include organisations such as Frontline Defenders, trade unions, Belgian MEPs Frieda Brepoels and Bart Staes and Film Director Ken Loach. Read on to see the letter and the list of signatories in full.
The Honourable Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General 760 United Nations Plaza United Nations New York, NY 10017
Dear Secretary General,
We, the undersigned, thank you for your efforts that allowed Saharawi human rights defender Aminatou Haidar to return to her home and her children after she was refused entry to her homeland by the Moroccan authorities. We are delighted that for once in the case of Western Sahara, justice and international law have prevailed.
But we know that this is not the end to the human rights abuse directed at those who oppose the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. Aminatou is only one of many victims of human rights violations. Other human rights defenders remain prisoners of conscience held in inhumane conditions and subject to abuse of international human rights, whilst others live under constant fear of arbitrary arrest and torture.
MINURSO is the only contemporary UN peacekeeping mission without a mandate to monitor human rights. The evidence for its need cannot now be ignored. It is necessary to extend the remit of MINURSO to include the monitoring of human rights.
We believe that without this extension of mandate, the Saharawi people will be unable to vote in a free and fair referendum of self-determination as is their right under international law.
We call for the monitoring of human rights to become part of MINURSO’s mandate when it is reviewed in April so that the United Nations can fulfil its obligations to arrange the referendum on self-determination to finally resolve the conflict over Western Sahara.
Frank Ruddy, U.S. Ambassador (ret.), Former Deputy Chairman, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
Trade Union Congress (TUC) UK
Simon Dubbins, Unite (UK)
Ken Loach, Film Director (UK)
Mark Thomas, Comedian (UK)
War on Want (UK)
Frieda Brepoels MEP (Belgium)
Guido Milana MEP (Italia)
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (UK)
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB (UK)
Bart Staes MEP (Belgium)
Graham Bennett, Director, One World Action (UK)
Emira Woods, Co-Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies (US)
Carne Ross – Director, Independent Diplomat
Bill Bowring – President, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights
Africa's last colony
Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.