Western Sahara: Wave of Arrests & DI Campaign

Defend International expressed concern about the recent massive wave of arrests in Western Sahara carried out by Moroccan security forces. In August 2007, two young Sahrawis were arrested, and DI launched a campaign, urging the Moroccan authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally unless they have been charged with recognizable criminal offences. In September 2007, one of them was released.


Result of DI Action:

  • On September 4, 2007, the Moroccan authorities released the minor Badr El-Hawassi without stating the reasons for his detention since 30th August.
  • While Abdelghani Kabdani has been transferred to Lekhl Detention center, in El-Ayoune in Western Sahara.


Campaign Status: Closed

DI Campaign:

The launch of the election campaign by the Moroccan government in 21 August 2007 has resulted in increased harassment, intimidation, arrest and or abductions of citizens – operations carried out by security forces. Below you’ll find one of many cases:

The case:

Time: Thursday, August 30, 2007

Place: Linaach district, El-Ayoune – Western Sahara, Morocco

Detainees: two young Sahrawis

Moroccan security forces carried out a raid at an internet cafe and arrested Badr El-Hawassi. Further, Abdelghani Kabdani was detained while he was on his way home.

The next hours passed slowly on their families, waiting for them to return or to receive some news. It’s a matter of deep concern, not being notified of their family member’s detention. They had no idea about the reason(s) behind their arrest or their whereabouts.


DI views and Demands:

Defend International (DI) expresses concern about the recent massive wave of arrests initaited by the Moroccan government.  It is unacceptable to learn that the Moroccan security forces detain civilians with total disregard to all human rights principles and international standards.

  • Defend International urges Moroccan authorities to ensure the safety of the detainees: Badr El-Hawassi and Abdelghani Kabdani; to guarantee not to detain them incommunicado, where torture is most frequently practiced according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and to release them immediately and unconditionally unless they have been charged with recognizable criminal offences.
  • DI also calls for them to be granted regular access to their families, lawyers, and any medical treatment they may require.
  • DI asks for details of the charges against them and when they will be brought to trail.
  • Finally, Defend International seeks urgent assurances that Badr El-Hawassi and Abdelghani Kabdani are not being tortured or ill-treated and demands Morocco to develop a mechanism to stop putting detainees at risk of torture.