UN statement of concern about use of military court to try and convict 25 Saharan civilians

Statement, United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 19 February 2013

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“We are concerned by the use of a military court to try and convict 25 Saharan civilians charged in relation to violence during and after the dismantling of the Gdim Izik protest camp near Laayoune, Western Sahara, in November 2010, when 11 members of the Moroccan security forces and two Saharans were killed.

The 25 civilians were sentenced to between two years and life in prison by the Permanent Military Tribunal of the Royal Armed Forces in Rabat during the night of 16 to 17 February 2013.  (cont.)

As noted by the Human Rights Committee, the use of military or special courts to try civilians raises serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.

We are also concerned by reports that most of the accused allege they were tortured or ill-treated during their pre-trial detention, but that no investigations into these allegations appear to have taken place. This was a very serious event, involving substantial loss of life, and it is important that justice is done, but it is also important that the judicial processes scrupulously abide by international fair trial standards. “