UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet indicated Monday in Geneva that the United Nations is looking forward to discussing the parameters of a new visit to Western Sahara, in order to examine the human rights situation in the territory.
Sending missions to Western Sahara are “vital to identify critical human rights issues” and contribute to “preventing the escalation of grievances,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed at the opening of the 45th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In March 2019, Michel Bachelet denounced the Moroccan occupation authorities’ continued obstruction of the implementation of the program of sending technical missions to occupied Western Sahara, which prevented OHCHR from preparing field reports on the human rights situation there, and only monitoring the situation and reporting on it remotely since 2015.
In her response to an oral intervention by 182 human rights organizations, including the Sahrawi National Commission for Human Rights, Ms. Bachelet emphasized the great importance of sending technical missions to the territory, expressing in the same context the desire and willingness of her Office to do so, provided ensuring that members of the mission can access the region, instead of monitoring the situation remotely, as has been the case since four years ago.
It should be noted that the High Commissioner’s interaction with the question of occupied Western Sahara came in light of the demand sought by a group of Council members and international and national human rights bodies to resume the dispatch of technical missions to the occupied parts of the territory of the Sahrawi Republic, following the closure of the territory by the Moroccan occupation army to the press and international observers, the dangerous increase in the frequency of gross violations of human rights, and the campaigns of arrest and mock trials against Sahrawi human rights and media activists in recent years. (Sumoud)