Human Rights Watch said that the UN Security Council should ensure that the UN presence in the region includes regular human rights monitoring, added the same source.
“All UN peacekeeping missions around the world include a human rights component and, with MINURSO forces operating in a peacekeeper capacity in Western Sahara, this region should be no exception.”
Morocco has ruled Western Sahara de facto since its troops invaded the territory following Spain’s withdrawal from its former colony in 1976. Morocco officially refers to the region as its "southern provinces," but the United Nations does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the last colony in Africa.
Morocco opposed as unworkable a UN-brokered plan for a referendum on the territory’s future and has proposed autonomy for the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty. Rabat made it clear, however, that the plan envisages no rollback of laws criminalizing "attacks on territorial integrity." Thus, Moroccan-granted autonomy will not give Saharawis their right to demand independence or a referendum to decide the region’s future.
"Sahrawis differ on how to resolve the conflict," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
"But wherever they live, authorities must allow them peacefully to express and act on behalf of those views, she added, estimating that “Any proposed solution for the Western Sahara that does not guarantee these rights is no solution at all."