Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara (NSCWS)
11 March 2009The Saharawi woman who was raped at the end of February (see previous post dated 25 Feb 2009) has now reported the incident to the police. The Moroccan Ministry of Domestic Affairs denies that policemen have raped the woman.
Two weeks ago The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara wrote about a 16-year-old girl who said she had been apprehended outside her home by Moroccan police, abducted and finally raped.
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The case has now developed further, and The Support Committee has received more information.
The first reports that The Support Committee received from Sahrawi human rights groups concerning the girl being 16 years old have now been disproved by the same groups. Her correct age is 19 years.
The woman, whose name is Hayat Rguibi, has now also stated that she wishes to make her testimony public. She explains this in a video sent to The Support Committee.
A medical examination showed that she had been subjected to an assault, and the physician recorded injuries on her back and arms, among other places. She did not, however, want the physician to carry out a complete examination of her body. See the physician’s certificate to the right.
The physician put Rguibi on sick leave for a 14-day period.
The Support Committee has now received a copy of Rguibi’s police report (see below). Rguibi reported the incident to the police on 27 February.
Already a day later the Moroccan Ministry of Domestic Affairs was able to flatly repudiate all charges. “No girl has been interrogated or apprehended by the police. We don’t know where they get such information from,” a representative of the ministry of Domestic Affairs told Reuters on 28 February.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara does not consider this ready repudiation by Moroccan authorities very credible and points out that it is not possible to carry out a thorough investigation of such an incident in one day.
“We demand that a thorough investigation of the episode is carried out and that it is not just dismissed out of hand. This also demonstrates how acute the need is for the UN mission in Western Sahara to have its mandate broadened, so that it can supervise and report on human rights infringements in an independent manner,” Ronny Hansen, chairman of The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, said.
Such demands for the expansion of the MINURSO mandate have previously been rejected by France, Morocco’s foremost ally on the Security Council.
– NSCWS: Sahrawi teenager raped by police officers, Feb 24, 2009
– HRW: Morocco: Suppressing Rights in Western Sahara, Dec 21, 2008
– afrol News: Agadir student killings trigger protests, Dec 3, 2008