To: H/E Mr António Guterres General Secretary
Your Excellency Mr António Guterres,
The Central and Eastern European Alliance for Solidarity with the Sararawi People (CEE Alliance) learnt with indignation that on 19th July 2017, the well-known Saharawi “Gdeim Izik Group” were sentenced by the Court of Appeal in Rabat to heavy and unjust sentences on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. The Court of Appeal was on the 26th of December 2016 to address the appeal of the case of these 24 human rights activists. One of the original 25 was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2013 and was not included in the new trial. Two of the accused were sentenced to time served, and the rest were given harsh sentences.
The Rabat Court of Appeals sentenced the defendants who 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, to prison terms ranging from two years to life imprisonment.
The politically motivated and unjust sentences against the Sahrawi human rights activists, including life imprisonment, were handed down in a trial that was fraught with legal irregularities as attested to by the independent and international observers that managed to follow the trial. A host of international human rights organizations and groups have also expressed their deep concern about the proceedings of this unjust trial, on which Amnesty international has stated that “During the trial most defendants told the court they were tortured into ‘confessing’ or incriminating themselves or others. If the court was serious about offering them a fair trial, it would have conducted proper investigations into torture allegations by now, or excluded questionable evidence during the hearings,” said Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International, on 19th of July, 2017. In addition, Amnesty International underlined that “The failure of judicial authorities, over more than six years, to adequately investigate torture allegations in this case is a stain on today’s verdict.” affirmed Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International, on 19th of July, 2017.
In fact, this verdict pronounced at the end of a judicial masquerade, is only the transposition of military sentences of 2013 annulled last year by the Moroccan Court of Cassation.
CEE Alliance is reiterating its demand for the immediate liberation of the Saharawi political prisoners, including the leading activists of Gdeim Izik protest camp held in the prison of Salé since November 2010.
Budapest 6 September 2017.
President of the Alliance