Human Rights Watch finds few abuses inside West Sahara camps

Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975 when Spanish colonial rule ended, galvanizing the Polisario into fighting for a separate state until a U.N.-brokered ceasefire in 1991.

Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975 when Spanish colonial rule ended, galvanizing the Polisario into fighting for a separate state until a U.N.-brokered ceasefire in 1991.

Human Rights Watch says that contrary to claims by Morocco, there are few rights abuses at refugee camps run by the pro-independence Polisario movement in Western Sahara.

The organization said Saturday its two week investigation of the camps noted isolated cases of harassment of critics but in general found camp residents could freely express themselves or leave.

The camps in the remote desert region of Tindouf in Algeria hold some 90,000 refugees from the Western Sahara, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

Morocco, which fought 15 year war against the Polisario, maintains camp residents are brutally treated by the group and held against their will.

After a 1991 ceasefire, a referendum was to be held to determine the fate of the Western Sahara, which Morocco has blocked.

 
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