The Guardian, Letters, 20 February 2013
The Guardian has published a letter about the Saharawi trials from the Western Sahara Action Forum – a group working on human rights monitoring in the UN mission’s mandate. The letter describes the trials as a travesty of justice…..
A press release about the letter has been put out by the Free Sahara Network (based in London)
This weekend 24 Saharawi activists were sentenced by a Moroccan military tribunal. Please get involved.
Post or Tweet this link http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/20/western-sahara-trials-morocco or go to @freewsnetwork and Retweet their messages.
Here’s whats happening in the UK.
British MP’s describe sentencing of Western Sahara activists as “travesty of justice” 21/2/13
Several British MP’s have joined prominent campaigners including film director Ken Loach in condemning the sentencing of 24 Saharawi activists by a military tribunal in Morocco at the weekend. In a letter published in the Guardian newspaper, the Members of Parliament describe the sentences, most of which ranged from 20 years to life imprisonment as “a travesty of justice”.
The letter states:
“The sentencing of 24 Saharawi activists by a Moroccan military tribunal last weekend is a travesty of justice. The defendants, most of whom received sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment, were involved in setting-up the Gdeim Izik protest camp in Western Sahara in 2010, widely regarded as the first spark of the Arab spring. Amnesty International has described their trial as flawed from the outset, in violation of international standards for fair trials. While in detention, the defendants claim to have been coerced into signing confessions. Any trial of the defendants, many of whom are prominent human rights activists, should have been in a civilian court. It should not have been delayed by over two years and allegations of torture should have been fully and independently investigated. This appears to have been a politically motivated show trial. We urge the international community to speak out against these sentences and support our call for independent human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.”
After more than a week of hearings, the military court in Rabat sentenced 8 of the defendants, including Sidahmed Lemjiyed, the President of the Saharawi Committee for the Protection of Natural Resources to life imprisonment. 14 others were convicted to sentences ranging from 20 to 30 years. Two were sentenced to two years.
European observers who witnessed the trial, noted many anomalies including the delay of detention without trial beyond the legal limit of 12 months, trial of civilians in a military court, confessions allegedly obtained under torture and signed with a thumb print.
To view the letter visit: