HRW criticises taboo on debating Western Sahara issue in Morocco
In a report published Tuesday (January 8th), Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Moroccan authorities to stop "muzzling" campaigners for Western Sahara's independence. The report was the result of a two-week HRW mission to Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. It was released to coincide with the first full day of UN-sponsored peace talks on the 32-year old conflict in Manhasset, New York.
"Stopping people from debating one of the core issues concerning their future would overshadow any advances provided by Morocco's autonomy plan," HRW director for North Africa, Leah Whitson said, adding that "the taboo on debating the Western Sahara issue undermines the real progress Morocco has made elsewhere on human rights."
Morocco has proposed an autonomous statute for Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty, while the Polisario Front is pushing for a referendum including the option of full independence. Whitson underlined that HRW "takes no position for or against independence for Western Sahara or on Morocco's autonomy plan for the region".
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