Morocco recognizes crimes against humanity perpetrated against the
The Royal Advisory Council for Human Rights (CCHR) of Morocco published
in late December 2010, a report on the recommendations of the Committee
Equity and Reconciliation (unofficial
anexe1: “cases of enforced
disappearances” it recognized that more than 350 Saharawi have died,
including 144 people allegedly during military battles without
specifying their identities or the exact circumstances of their death,
and whether they were kidnapped or executed (115 persons in various
military bases including 14 children aged from 3 months to 15 years, 43
people in the secret detention centers of “Agdez” and of “Kalaat
Magouna”, 23 people in El Aaiun, all these cases the report says, died
in conditions of extreme suffering due to their treatment an
incarceration, 13 people were executed by a martial court, in addition
to other who died in different prisons ...). The report acknowledges
that the perpetrators of these crimes belong to different Moroccan
military corps, especially the army, gendarmerie and auxiliary forces.
This recognition comes from an official institution of a regime that
has tried hard to hide the facts about the genocide perpetrated by the
Moroccan forces of occupation from the first day of the invasion. The
crimes described by the report (which extracts related to the Saharawi
cases are attached below) can only be qualified as "CRIMES AGAINST
HUMANITY" as it is defined in the international law and especially
since the norms set after the Nuremberg tribunal until the constitution
of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In a first reading of the contents of the report we can see the little
space given to each case, as there were:
• Deliberate concealment of the identity of 114 cases that died during
military combat, while recognizing having their bodies.
• Incomplete data of identity, place of detention or date of arrest in
• Concealment of the alleged burial sites, except in the case of 27
Sahrawi who were buried in “Agdez: according to the report, 16 in
“Kalaat Magouna” and one case in “Karama” detention center, without
specifying whether the remains were exhumed and properly identified.
Until now, the dead bodies of these victims were not returned to their
• The list of adults included at least 7 children, who were killed
because of extreme conditions of detention.
• Concealment of information on the circumstances of abduction of about
640 of Saharawis, who according to the report were victims of forced
• Maintenance of total silence on those responsible for torture and
other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Sahrawi disappeared
during their captivity that lead to the death of hundreds.
• Reluctance to inform the families of the victims, who still have no
access to all the truth related to their missing relatives, no details
of their sufferings, nor the places of their burial or official
recognition of the facts and of the dignity of the victims, no moral
reparation and Justice, as required under the international
humanitarian law and the United Nations’ conventions on forced
disappearances and the right to reparation.
In addition, Morocco only recognizes part of Sahrawi victims of
enforced disappearances (Agdez group and Kalaat Maguna and the victims
who died in different places, mainly in military bases), and
deliberately excluded thousands other victims such as those forcibly
displaced and forced to exile, thousands of survivors of arbitrary
detention and disappearance and the rest of the still reported missing
unaccounted for, (there are many groups of disappeared in El Aaiun,
Smara, Dakhla, Bojador, Tan Tan, Zak, Goulimine, Meknes group, nomads,
individual cases ...).
During all these 35 years, the Moroccan government has been keping this
information secret, and now allegedly says that there has been a death
sentence against 13 Saharawi civilians given by a court in 19 October
1976, and has been prolonging anxiety and pain of the relatives of the
Saharawi victims of disappearance. In 1999, the Moroccan government was
even pretending that those missing were living in the Saharawi refugee
camps or other neighboring countries, mainly Spain and Mauritania.
(Answer given to the Personal Envoy of Kofi Anan to the Western Sahara,
Mr. James Baker, with regards to the list of victims he received from
Far from healing wounds, this recognition by Morocco reopens the case
of the victim of forced disappearance that Morocco so disparately tried
to close, keeping the impunity of the perpetrators of the crimes
against humanity committed against the Saharawi people.
The revelations of the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for Human Rights
are in fact a proof:
1. That the Moroccan State is responsible for the disappearance of
hundreds Saharawi and as a result, it is accountable for violations of
the right to life, the right to the respect of physical mental and
moral integrity, and the right to personal liberty, the right to the
truth and to grief, the right not to be subjected to torture and other
cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, all of which are rights
protected by all international conventions on human rights and even by
2. That the Moroccan State has violated the rights of the victims and
their families to a fair trial, in particular the right to a judicial
hearing within a reasonable time after detention as is enshrined both
in international treaties and in the Moroccan legislation itself.
3. That the Moroccan State has failed to its obligation to ensure and
guarantee to the Sahrawi citizens to exercise their rights and
fundamental freedoms, as is guaranteed in internationally recognised
4. That the Moroccan State has also violated its obligation as an
occupying force, well underlined in the Geneva Conventions, in
particular concerning the protection of civilians and humanitarian
treatment of prisoners of war.
Accordingly, the Moroccan state should:
1. Fully compensate the survivors and families of the victims of forced
disappearance for the grave material and moral damage caused to them.
Thus, it is required from the Moroccan government requires to:
i. Perform a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation on the facts
related to forced disappearance and other serious violations committed
against the Saharawi citizens, and in particular to make known the
whereabouts of all missing Saharawis and to identify the accountability
of the persons who are involved directly or indirectly in the
violations so as they receive the appropriate legal sanctions. This
investigation cannot be credible without the participation of human
rights organizations both Sahrawi, Moroccan and international.
ii. To report on the circumstances of arbitrary detention and
kidnapping of all the victims of disappearance the fate of the victims,
and locate their tombs and return their dead bodies to the families to
give them proper burials.
iii. To give adequate compensation to repair the material and moral
damage suffered by the families of the victims. And to recognize the
State’s responsibility in the crimes and to give all needed guarantees
of non-repetition of these violations as required in reparation under
the international law and humanitarian international law and the
principles of the right to compensation.
iv. To allow the self-determination to the Saharawi people through the
holding of a referendum on self-determination without more delays, as a
way to end the phenomenon of disappearance and serious human rights
violations that are continuously committed as a consequence to the
continuity of occupation and impunity enjoyed by the persons
accountable for crimes against humanity perpetrated in Western Sahara
since October 31, 1975, the year of the Moroccan invasion to the
The UN, which is responsible for the respect of international norms in
terms of human rights, mainly in Non-Self-Governing territories pending
a process of decolonization, is obliged to adopt necessary measures
based on the Moroccan official recognition of these crimes, and must
urge Morocco to guarantee the rights to the truth, justice and
reparation to the victims of forced disappearance and other crimes
against humanity perpetrated in Western Sahara.
In front of such serious crimes as revealed in this report as well as
the crimes still committed against a civil population “submitted to a
collective punishment that is the equivalent of a crime against
humanity”, the International Penal Court must investigate on the
situation with the aim to determine and identify the responsibility of
Moroccan military and civil officials accountable of these crimes and
violations of the international law.
Saharawi refugee camps, 18 January 2011.
Abdeslam Omar Lahsen
Presidene of AFAPREDESA
Occidental - Western Sahara]