BRUSSELS—This afternoon, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) narrowly approved (258 votes to 251) an amendment[1] on Western Sahara to the 2014 annual report on human rights and democracy in the world and on the related policy of the European Union (2015/2229(INI)).

This vote puts the Saharawi people in the heart of the European Parliament concern by integrating the following amendment: 77a Calls for the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to assembly, to be respected; demands the release of all Sahrawi political prisoners; demands access to the territories of Western Sahara for members of parliament, independent observers, NGOs and the press; urges the United Nations to provide MINURSO with a human rights mandate, in line with all other UN peacekeeping missions around the world; supports a fair and lasting settlement of the Western Sahara conflict, on the basis of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions (new para. 78).

This new echoes the victory won last 10 December by the Polisario Front to the European Court of Justice, which, after a battle of more than 3 years, annulled agricultural and fishing agreements between the EU and Morocco.

Victories in the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice represent a turning point in the consideration of the conflict between the Saharawi people and the Moroccan government: 40 years of Moroccan occupation, violation of human rights of the Saharawi people, plundering of natural resources and 24-year ceasefire pending the self-determination referendum agreed between the two parties in 1991.

This news comes while a large portion of the Saharawi people living in refugee camps (165,000 out of 635,897) host some 2,475 representatives from around the world at the Tindouf for the XIV Congress of the Polisario Front (16–20 December) to decide the future of their legitimate struggle toward exercising their right to self-determination.

European Parliament’s resolution for monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara, “relevant”

Algeria Press Service

18 December 2015

DAKHLA (Sahrawi Refugee Camps)—The Sahrawi deputy minister for Foreign Affairs Mohamed Sidati dubbed Thursday, in Dakhla, “important,” “relevant” the report of the European Parliament on Human Rights which particularly calls for the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to the monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara.

“The European parliament, in its report on human rights, adopted a very important and especially exhaustive text concerning Western Sahara,” Sidati told APS, on the sidelines of the 2nd day of the 14th Polisario Front congress.

“It is a very important and relevant resolution which has just been adopted at year end, to say just how much the Western Sahara issue has gained support in Europe,” he said.

“The resolution obtained a large majority thus becoming an official document of the European Union (EU),” he explained, recalling that the report will be presented to the United Nations Council for Human Rights.

Sidati recalled that this report calls on the one hand, for the freedom and expression for Sahrawi populations in the occupied territories and calls, on the other hand, for the immediate release of Sahrawi political prisoners, just as he stressed on the need to endow the MINURSO with a mandate for the protection and the monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara.

Furthermore, the European Parliament demands, in the favour of this resolution, the freedom of access to European Parliamentarians and human rights activists to occupied Sahrawi territories.

Original article

[1] The amendment was introduced by Paloma Lopez, Vice-President of the Intergroup on Western Sahara, through the European United Left Group (GUE / NGL).