STATEMENT TO CONDEMN MOROCCAN SENTENCES
AGAINST SAHARAWI POLITICAL PRISONERS
Sandblast strongly condemns Morocco's unfair and unjust sentence of 24 Saharawi civilians who were tried before a military court on Sunday February 17, 2013.
The military court of Rabat convicted eight of the defendants to life imprisonment. Fourteen were given sentences ranging from 20 to 30 years, and two were given prison sentences of two years.
These prisoners of conscience were arrested following the violent dismantling of the peaceful protest camp at Gdeim Izik on the outskirts of Al-Auin by Moroccan forces on November 8 2010. They were detained for two years without trial in terrible condition at the Sale prison near Rabat and went on hunger strikes several times to protest their conditions.
A litany of human rights violations including arbitrary sentences, continuous detention, trial postponements and the detainees' allegations of torture and ill-treatment have been the cause of considerable international concern. Thereby, Sandblast denounces that:
1) The kingdom of Morocco does not have any jurisprudence over the aforementioned event in Gdeim Izik insofar as it has not been internationally recognised as having administrative power in the Territory which, according to the advisory letter from the UN Office of Legal Affairs (2002), lies instead with the former Spanish colonial authorities;
2) The trial of civilians before a military court did not meet international recognised standards for holding a fair trial;
3) The continuous imprisonment of civilians involved in the aforementioned event do not respect international law since no independent investigation into the events of Gdeim Izik were conducted in the two years after they occurred;
4) The detainees' allegations of torture and ill-treatment contravene legal standards of Moroco, a signee of the Convention Against Torture in 1986, and invalidates any evidence obtained from prisoners under these circumstances;
5) The military trial is unconstitutional under Moroccan national law as the article 127 of the Moroccan constitution (2011) forbids Ad Hoc Courts, whose sentences cannot be appealed;
6) The evidence used against the prisoners remained in possession of the Moroccan authorities instead of being held by an independent judicial body;
7) The military court´s denial of medical assistance to the political prisoners who had experienced human rights abuses and violations and the lack of any due process to investigate these allegations;
8) The unlawful sentence against one of the condemned Saharawi prisoners who was reportedly arrested the day before the dismantling of the camp happened and did not participate in the Gdeim Izik events;
Due to the aforementioned points, Sandblast condemns the outcome of this unlawful trial and demands the immediate release of these political prisoners and the restoration of their dignity.
The Sandblast Team