RFK Center Urges Spanish and Moroccan Officials to Protect the Human Rights of Expelled Saharawi Rights Defender, Aminatou Haidar

For Immediate Release

RFK Center Urges Spanish and Moroccan Officials to Protect the Human Rights of Expelled Saharawi Rights Defender, Aminatou Haidar

WASHINGTON - The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights expresses grave concerns over the forced removal of Aminatou Haidar from her homeland in Western Sahara to the Canary Islands on November 14th 2009. Reportedly today the Foreign Ministers of Morocco and Spain will meet to discuss Ms. Haidar's expulsion.

Ms. Haidar attempted to return to Western Sahara on November 13th, but after declaring Western Sahara as her home on an immigration entry form, as she has always done in the past, Moroccan authorities interrogated her, confiscated her passport and removed her from the country against her will. Moroccan authorities are claiming Ms. Haidar then signed a form renouncing her Moroccan citizenship.

Ms. Haidar launched a hunger strike November 16th to protest her removal and remains in poor health, bringing an added urgency to the situation.

The RFK Center calls upon Moroccan and Spanish officials to take all necessary measures to immediately return Ms. Haidar to Western Sahara and return all of her seized travel and identification documents. The RFK Center also requests that Moroccan authorities ensure the protection of Ms. Haidar's fundamental human rights, including the right to national identity and right to freedom of movement.

The RFK Center is urging the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights conduct an investigation into Ms. Haidar's forced removal and is advocating for the implementation of a U.N. human rights monitoring mechanism for the protection of the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara. The UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, Mission for the Referendum for Western Sahara (MINURSO), is the only modern UN peacekeeping mission without a human rights monitoring component.

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