Western Sahara: Human rights, a central topic

Non-governmental organizations move regularly to the south of Morocco in order to assess the situation of human rights in the region, which has been a matter of dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front since 1975. Even if the Kingdom of Morocco has still to make huge efforts before the situation of human rights in these areas be in line with international standards, the fact remains that these efforts strike the observer, and the freedom of expression enjoyed by the inhabitants of the Sahara has a big influence on the public opinion. Indeed, the Sahrawis living in Western Sahara feel free to criticize the local and national authorities without being sanctioned. Even more surprising, since the beginning of the year, there has been a flow of unprecedented arrival of Sahrawis, leaving the “Moukhayamates” (camps) of Tindouf managed by the Polisario Front, to join Morocco.

Amounting to 1.000 people since March 2010, all the rallied believe that the human rights situation in Morocco has nothing to do with the situation in Tindouf camps, protected by the Algerian army and the militia of the Front movement. The international NGOs are indeed systematically restricted from crossing the limits defined for them at their arrival to the camps. Otherwise, they will be denied the renewal of their accreditation or visa. On the Moroccan side, it seems that the authorities have realized the challenge to be faced in terms of freedom respect, and want to show their openness by allowing association activists and civil society to fully play their roles as catalysts of progress in the Western Sahara.


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