Western Sahara prisoners complain to UN experts against Morocco
Eighteen Western Sahara independence activists jailed for the 2010 killing of 11 Moroccan police officers have filed a complaint against Rabat to UN experts on arbitrary detention, supporters said Friday.
"The Gdeim Izik prisoners are filing a complaint against Morocco with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, alleging acts of torture and political repression," a statement from the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara said.
Gdeim Izik was a Sahrawi camp near the disputed territory's main city Laayoune where clashes broke out in November 2010 in which 11 Moroccan security personnel were killed.
The activists are among 23 Sahrawis sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to life over the deaths.
"Sahrawis who fight for self-determination are subjected to discriminatory practices and have been handed long prison sentences on the basis of confessions marred by torture," the statement said.
In early June, organisations said complaints against Morocco had been lodged with the UN Committee against Torture over four Sahrawi activists, three of whom were convicted in the Gdeim Izik trial and had allegedly been "severely tortured".
One of the support organisations at the time decried "a dangerous attempt to tarnish the facts, transforming criminals into victims".
The disputed territory of Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony that Morocco sees as an integral part of the kingdom.
It boasts rich Atlantic fisheries, phosphate resources and a land link to West African markets.
Rabat wants the territory to have an autonomous status under Moroccan sovereignty, but the pro-independence Polisario Front insists that a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination be held as agreed in a 1991 ceasefire deal.