Danes demand human rights in Western Sahara

Danes demand human rights in Western Sahara
A mosque in Dakhla, Western Sahara. Photo: David Stanley/Flickr
With the backing of a majority of parliament, the Danish organization Afrika Kontakt is calling on the UN to step up human rights efforts and protect the native people of Western Sahara.
In a letter, Danish solidarity organization Afrika Kontakt, along with Danish MEP Rina Ronja Kari and other Danish organizations, has urged the President of the United Nations Security Council to give the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, a mandate to monitor the human rights situation in Africa’s last colony. The letter also urges the President to protect the natural resources of the indigenous population in Western Sahara, the Saharawis.
“The implementation of these two matters is essential for a just, peaceful and viable solution to the Western Sahara conflict in accordance with relevant human rights treaties, the UN Charter and the Geneva Convention, as well as for the protection of the interests of the Saharawis until such a solution is found”, the letter states, pointing to the fact that “the UN and many human rights organizations have documented numerous instances of ongoing human rights violations such as torture, unfair trials and arbitrary court rulings, as well as discrimination and illegal plundering of the natural resources that legally belong to The Saharawis”.
The letter also states that these pleas are in line with the explicit wishes of a vast majority in the Danish parliament.
“In this request, we are in line with the Danish government and a vast majority of parliament. The Danish Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2014 adopted a report on Western Sahara that, amongst other things, stated that Denmark will continue to support the endeavours of the United Nations to ensure a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, that MINURSO must be allowed to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and that Danish governmental institutions and companies are recommended not to buy products from Western Sahara”.
MINURSO is the only UN peacekeeping mission established since 1978 not to have a human rights mandate, although UN Security Council Resolution 1979 recommends the establishment of such a mission.
The UN Security Council will decide whether to allow MINURSO to monitor the human rights situation in Western Sahara, when they extend MINURSO’s mandate at the end of this month.
Read the whole letter here
Peter Kenworthy is a freelance journalist for Africa Kontakt and other publications. 

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