Ambassador: Morocco Upholds Human Rights in Western Sahara

Youssef Amrani responds to claims of human rights violations in Western Sahara. Photo: Embassy of Morocco in South Africa/YouTube

Rabat – Morocco’s Ambassador to South Africa Youssef Amrani has called claims of human rights violations at the hands of Moroccan authorities in Western Sahara “unfounded.”

The Moroccan Embassy in Pretoria shared on Tuesday the fifth installment of an eight-episode video campaign breaking down the Western Sahara question.

The clip features Amrani’s response to claims of rights violations in Western Sahara. 

“Morocco has a very positive track record in the region when it comes to human rights,” he began confidently. “The reforms we have taken in our country are well-known and globally recognized.”

Amrani described civil liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly as well as gender equality as “fully enshrined” in Morocco’s constitution.

The UN Human Rights Council named Morocco among the top five countries satisfactorily implementing UN recommendations on the protection of human rights in 2019, he continued. 

In December of last year, the UN Human Rights Committee gave Morocco a grade “A” in recognition of the “important steps” it took to implement the committee’s recommendations. 

The committee based Morocco’s grade on its steps to strengthen the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) by expanding its investigation and monitoring powers. 

CNDH has 13 regional commissions throughout Morocco. Two are in the southern provinces — Laayoune and Dakhla — and are fully operational. 

“The UN Security Council has praised the work of these two commissions,” Amrani stressed. 

The US State Department’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices also recognized Morocco’s positive steps towards improving human rights last year. The report highlighted, in particular, the creation of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to support Morocco’s compliance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. 

The report recognized Morocco’s shortcomings in some areas of human rights development but commended the country’s tangible efforts towards improving freedoms throughout the country. 

Despite these strides, international watchdog organizations such as Amnesty International have reported that Moroccan authorities continue to violate rights. In Western Sahara, the NGO claims Morocco has arrested activists, targeted journalists, used excessive force, and carried out unfair trials. 

Amrani, however, maintained that claims of rights violations in Western Sahara are “unfounded.” The diplomat stressed that Morocco is committed to strengthening human rights throughout the entire territory, “with no exceptions.”

He also underlined Morocco’s transparency in coordinating with international human rights observers.

“Morocco has invited all special reporters of the Human Rights Council to visit Morocco and its Saharan provinces,” he said. 

“We have hosted with no restriction, 12 of such special procedures attended by journalists, activists, and other concerned stakeholders.” 

“Morocco has nothing to hide,” he insisted, describing human rights as engrained in Moroccan DNA and culture.

The Moroccan embassy in Pretoria is conducting a Western Sahara awareness campaign to dispel uncertainties and misconceptions about the region and the territorial dispute that surrounds it. The campaign distributes informative videos on digital platforms and social networks in South Africa and neighboring countries.  

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