Balance of identification
Convoked applicants since Dec.3 1997: 111 959
Identified applicants since Dec.3 1997: 83 310
Identified applicants since Aug. 1997: 143 422
The Italian deputee Carlo Leoni, member of the Foreign Policy Committee, asked in the parliamentary session if the Italian Foreign Minister really declared on his recent trip in Rabat, that the result of the Western Sahara referendum had to respect the Moroccan territorial integrity. In that case, added Leoni, he is in contradiction to the UN resolutions and to the Houston agreements as well as to the Italian parliament, which approved recently and unanimously a resolution supporting the Houston agreements (Il Manifesto).
90 congressmen appealed in a letter to President Bill Clinton "to take all appropriated measures to reinforce the cooperation" between the USA and Morocco, based on "common values and interests". The congressmen underline that Morocco was "a resolute ally in the first and in the second world war and during the cold war." (MAP)
Annual report of the ICRC
According to ICRC records, in 1997 the Polisario Front was still holding 1,887 Moroccan prisoners, nearly all of whom were visited by the ICRC during the year. ICRC doctors noted an increase in the number of cases requiring treatment and repatriation as a matter of priority, and in March and November a list of 362 of the most vulnerable prisoners was submitted to the Polisario Front, with copies to the Moroccan authorities for their information.
Following the UN Special Envoy's visit to Tindouf in March, the Front freed 85 prisoners. At the year's end, they were still waiting to be repatriated by the Moroccan authorities, who maintained their opposition in principle to any repatriations that did not concern all the detainees.
In 1997 the ICRC
- saw nearly 1,969 Moroccan prisoners,- restored and maintained contact between Moroccan prisoners and their families by forwarding 51,841 Red Cross messages, and sent 2,000 family parcels to Moroccan prisoners via the Algerian Red Crescent;- improved health care for Moroccan prisoners and the Sahrawi population by providing ad hoc assistance to local medical facilities.
50th session of the UN Subcommission on Human Rights, 3 to 28
Malik Ozden, of Centre Europe - Tiers Monde, CETIM, said Aug. 5 the United Nations had once again failed to take firm action needed to allow a fair referendum on the Western Sahara; Morocco continued to place obstacles in the path of peace; the press was not allowed to cover freely the process leading up to the referendum; the credibility of the United Nations was at stake. The United Nations must insist on implementation of the peace and referendum plans as stipulated. The territory must be opened up to observers and the press now, not later, to ensure the fairness of the referendum; steps also were needed to ensure respect for human rights after the vote, whatever its outcome.
The Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Mr Benjelloun-Touimi, refuted the testimony of CETIM, saying it was not well-founded.
The Moroccan authorities officially protested to officials in Qatar about the programme transmitted by the Al-Jazirah (Space) Channel last week on the Western Sahara issue. The Moroccan authorities noted that the programme devoted a major part to Polisario leader Mohamed Abdelaziz compared with a small part to the Moroccan prime minister. The programme accused the Moroccan authorities of not cooperating (Al-Hayat, London).
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Geneva, 3-21.08.98
Examination of the report of Morocco
Mr de Gouttes, expert in charge of the question, commented the report from the Government of Morocco on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The report did not supply answers to previous demands by the Committee on the situation of certain groups susceptible to be the object of discrimination, particularly in Western Sahara.
The Government of Morocco had attempted to elucidate the cases of disappeared persons claimed by the Working Group on Involuntary Disappearances. Regarding cases of disappearances in the Western Sahara, the Moroccan delegation said it was merely propaganda and no one had provided the Government with details of the disappeared persons. The Government's hypothesis was that persons who died during the armed strife were registered solely for propaganda purposes.
Concerning the referendum process in the Western Sahara, the Moroccan delegation affirmed that the referendum would not take place in December 1998 as planned by the United Nations.
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