After conducting a mission on the state of rights and freedoms in the Western Sahara in September 2014 whose outcomes were detailed in a report, EuroMed Rights wished to conduct another mission on the state of rights and freedoms in the camps of Sahrawi refugees hosted in Algeria and which are under the administration of the Polisario Front.
This second mission was prepared in coordination with the Sahrawi National Human Rights Commission (CONASADH) and included meetings with government officials, the Parliament, members of the judiciary and lawyers, Sahrawi and international NGOs in the field, and tours of various institutions, including the penitentiary. It was to be an opportunity to enter into direct contact with individuals, whether witnesses or victims of possible human rights violations.
Since the camps are located on Algerian territory, EuroMed Rights unsuccessfully attempted to obtain visas from the Algerian authorities twice over the past few months trying to obtain visas from the Algerian authorities. These unsuccessful attempts were due to the late announcement of the issue of the visas, and the refusal to issue a visa to at least one of the mission’s members. On the third attempt, when it seemed that visas had been granted to all of the delegation’s members, the Embassy of Algeria in Brussels stated that all visas granted had been cancelled, barely ten days before the date of departure. To date, the Algerian authorities have not sent a letter containing the explanations that had been promised.
EuroMed Rights can only take note of the ban notified to it by the Algerian government. The mission will not take place, despite the fact that it was organised with the full agreement of the Sahrawi authorities. EuroMed Rights will therefore be unable to verify the actual state of rights and freedoms in the refugee camps and investigate the allegations of human rights violations of which it was informed. It is deeply regrettable that the Algerian authorities have impeded this investigation. While reflecting on the exact reasons that led the Algerian authorities to refuse the visa applications, EuroMed Rights can only note that the Algerian authorities have interfered in a situation that does not concern them.