dinsdag 1 mei 2007

Report of LI Parliamentary Fact-Finding Mission to the Western Sahara 3-7 April 2006

VVD-parlementslid Hans van Baalen blijkt een vriend van de Groot-Marokkaanse gedachte. Hij heeft het standpunt van de Liberale Internationale voor het referendum over onafhankelijkheid voor West Sahara omgebogen in een standpunt tégen het referendum en voor integratie bij Marokko. Hij heeft dit gedaan op basis van onderstaand rapport dat hij heeft opgesteld met medewerking van het Polisario, maar dat hij nooit heeft doorgestuurd naar het Polisario en dat verder nooit in de openbaarheid is gekomen. Het staat daarom hier op het wereldwijde web.

To: Hans van Baalen MP
From: Alison Hayes, Development Officer for Africa and the Middle East
Topic: Report of LI Parliamentary Fact-Finding Mission to the Western Sahara 3-7 April 2006
Date: 1 May 2006

Objectives of the Mission
A Parliamentary Delegation from Liberal International (LI) conducted a fact-finding mission to the Western Sahara between 3-7 April 2006, where there is a 30-year long dispute between the Moroccan government and the 'Western Sahara's Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia al-Hamra and Rio de Oro' (the Polisario) which supports the independence of the Western Sahara.
The LI Delegation ensured that a rounded view was obtained by meeting with many concerned parties, and by spending a balanced amount of time with: Moroccan officials and political parties in Laayoune and Rabat; Saharawi human rights activists in Laayoune; Polisario representatives in the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria; and the UN MINURSO mission in the Western Sahara. Statements made in this report primarily reflect facts as we found them on the ground, and where additional information has been sourced this is referenced.
LI Participants
* Mr Hans van Baalen MP, Shadow Foreign Affairs Spokesman in the Dutch Parliament and LI Deputy President, LI Delegation Leader
* Mr Gunnar Nordmark MP, Member of the Swedish Parliament
* Mr Francis Burstin, Head of Cabinet in the European Parliament of the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium
* Miss Alison Hayes, Development Officer for Africa and the Middle East, Liberal International Secretariat

Brief History of the conflict

1. In 1884, Spain claimed a protectorate over the African coast from Cape Bojador to Cap Blanc (at the present border with Mauritania). In 1957, a rebel movement in the area, headed by the Moroccan-backed Army of Liberation, ousted the Spanish. The Spanish regained control of the region with the help of the French in 1958.
2. In 1958, Spain joined the previously separate districts of Saguia el Hamra (in the North) and Rio de Oro (in the South) to form the province of Spanish Sahara (what is now the Western Sahara). In the early 1970s, dissidents formed organizations seeking independence for the province. At the same time, neighbouring nations (notably Mauritania, Morocco and Algeria) pressured Spain to call a referendum on the area's future in accordance with UN resolutions. Continuing guerrilla warfare in the 1970s and a "Green March" of over 300,000 Moroccans into the mineralrich territory in 1975 led to Spain's withdrawal from the province in 1976. At this time the area was renamed Western Sahara.
3. In the 'Madrid Accords' upon Spain's withdrawal, Morocco and Mauritania subdivided the region, with Morocco controlling the northern two thirds and Mauritania the southern third.
4. In 1975 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice stated that the previous ties between Morocco and the Western Sahara did not constitute Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara.1
5. The Polisario waged guerrilla warfare against Morocco and Mauritania, and set up a government in exile in the refugee camps in the south of Algeria, formally proclaiming the Western Sahara the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)2.
6. In 1979, Mauritania withdrew from its portion of the Western Sahara, which was taken over by Morocco. The Polisario continued its attacks on Moroccan strongholds and the protracted warfare caused thousands of refugees to flee into neighbouring Algeria. Morocco eventually built a defensive wall around the area.

OAU-UN Settlement Plan A UN-monitored cease-fire was implemented in 1991, which provided for a UN organised referendum in 1992, with Saharawis voting between independence or integration within Morocco. The electorate would have been based on the Saharawi population as identified in a Spanish census of 1974.

The process was stalled for years, first on the interpretation over voter eligibility, then on appeals eligibility. The referendum has never taken place, and the UN mandate to continue the mission, known as United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), has been extended countless times.

2000 Baker Plan | The Framework Agreement In 2000, the UN Special Envoy James Baker proposed the 'Framework Agreement' (Baker Plan I). It provided for five years of autonomy of the Western Sahara within Morocco, followed by a referendum between autonomy or independence.

The objection raised to this Plan was that any one who had lived in the Western Sahara for a more than a year could vote on the future status of the country. Since there was a large recent population of Moroccans, settled there by large government subsidies, the Polisario did not accept it. Similarly, despite the population numbers indicating that Morocco could have assured a 'no' vote to independence, Morocco rejected it as it included an independence option.

2003 Baker Plan 2 Peace Plan for the Self-determination of Weslern Sahara In 2003 a new version of the plan was presented, the Peace Plan for the Selfdetermination of Western Sahara (Baker Plan II).

The main difference was a clarification that at the end of a transitional period of autonomy, under provisional Moroccan sovereignty, eligible Saharawis and the bulk of settlers would vole for either independence, continued autonomy, or complete integration. There were also provisions as to how the Saharan autonomy was to be safe-guarded from Moroccan pressures, and it provided furlher detail on the referendum process in order to make it harder to stall or subvert.

The Baker Plan II was approved by the Security Council and accepted by the Polisario as a "basis of negotiations". However, it was rejected by Morocco on the basis that the plan "questions Moroccan territorial integrity."

As of the date of our visit, the referendum on the territory's future has not been held.
5. Overview of the current situation in Western Sahara

8. There remains a deadlock between the parties over how to achieve a mutually acceptable solution that would allow the people of the Western Sahara to exercise their right to self- determination. The LI Delegation was aware of increasing unrest in the region which means that the issue needs to rise rapidly on the international community's political agenda.

9. Tensions have risen due partly to two recent events, each antagonistic to the other party. On 6 November 2005 a celebration was held in Laayoune to mark the 30th anniversary of Morocco's 'Green March' into the Western Sahara; and from 24 to 28 February 2006 the Polisario held celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic. Several demonstrations calling for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara and respect for their human rights were concurrently organised in Laayoune and other main towns in the Western Sahara. These led to violent confrontations between the participants and the Moroccan security forces, leading to many arrests and detentions. The presence of Moroccan security and police forces was subsequently increased in the main towns.3

10. The timing of our visit was interesting as the week previously King Mohammed vl had conducted a visit to the region. In recent months the Moroccan government has been consuIting with the Monarch about an autonomy 'offer' to the region; and whilst in Laayoune the Monarch called on the population to, 'engage in a serious, careful reflection and put forward their views on the self-rule project, within the framework of the Kingdom's Sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity.'4

11. During his visit, on 25 March 2006, the Monarch granted pardons to 216 prisoners, including 30 Saharan activists. Pro-Saharan demonstrations were organised in several towns to welcome their release and call for the release of 37 other Saharan political prisoners. According to various media reports, Moroccan security forces intervened to disperse the demonstrators, leading to a number of arrests, especially in Smara, where several persons were detained and reportedly injured. The Secretary General of the Polisario stated that these 'dangerous developments' could lead to additional incidents, including 'deadly confrontations' between Moroccan and Saharan civilians.5
6. POLISARIO's Position

12. The LI Delegation visited the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria, and met high-ranking olficials of the SADR Government. The Saharawi refugees are located in one of the most hostile and barren deserts of the world, in the remote south-western corner of Algeria.

6.1 Summary of discussions
13. In the opinion of the Polisario, the Western Sahara, under Moroccan 'occupation', is the last remaining colony in Africa. They state that before Spain colonisied the territory there was no supra-tribal authority connecting the indigenous tribal network to Morocco. The Saharawis were never subservient to Moroccan sultans as their primary loyalties were tribal.

14. The Prime Minister of SADR told the LI Delegation that the Polisario continued to favour the implementation of the Baker Plan LI, but would also support the Baker Plan I, as both provided for self-determination through a referendum, with independence as one of the options, and both had been approved or supported by the Security Council. The LI Delegation was reminded of the advisory opinion of the 1975 International Court of Justice which concluded that there were no valid reasons as to why the rules for decolonisation and self-determination should not apply to the Western Sahara.

15. The Prime Minister stated that they were prepared to have a referendum even though the Moroccans have been skewing the numbers in their favour in recent years by settling Moroccans in the territory and by offering incentives such as salaries and free housing to Saharawis who relocated from the territory to Morocco.

16. It was impressed upon the LI Delegation that a 'head of steam' was gathering within the refugee camps, especially amongst the generation of young men who have actually been born into the camps. The Prime Minister stated that he advocated peaceful means, but was not sure whether he could 'restrain' the frustrations of these men for much longer.

17. When questioned, the Prime Minister stated categorically that no option of autonomy, as is being mooted by the Moroccan Authorities, would be acceptable.
6.2 General impressions

18. When the LI Delegation arrived we were welcomed into a seminar on the role of women and the importance of passing information and wisdom between the generations. This seminar was part of a series on non-political topics involving members of civil society, which was encouraging to see.

19. It was notable to the LI Delegation that women play an active role in all aspects of daily life in the camps and in politics. For example, the SADR Government is largely composed of women, and women are in charge of distributing food assistance to the refugees and also serve as teachers in the schools.

6.3 Humanitarian aspect
20. What is frequently forgotten is the humanitarian impact of this political crisis.

21. The LI Delegation was saddened to witness the level of damage caused to the camps by heavy flooding belween 9 to 11 February 2006. Between 50,000 and 60,000 refugees6 were left homeless after their shelters, made of mud bricks, collapsed.

22. The LI Delegation found that the refugees suffered from deteriorating health and nutritional conditions, particularly among women and children. The results of a nutrition survey conducted by the World Food Programme in early 2005 showed an increase in anemia among women and children since 2002. This could be the result of a lack of animal proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and fortified foods in the daily rations provided to the refugees. Chronic malnutrition in the refugee camps is a major health issue.7

23. The lack of potable drinking water in the desert camps also contributes to some of the refugees' health problems. Adequate supplies of drinkable water are difficult to find and expensive to maintain in the parchea desert region, and many of the Saharawis have long, relied on substandard water sources that barely meet the UN's standards.

24. The LI Delegation is concerned that no amount of funding and food aid will resolve the plight of the Saharawis in the absence of a political solution.
6.4 Alleged human rights abuses in the camps

25. While the Polisario faced criticism for its treatment of prisoners of war in the 1980s, there have been few independent complaints of human rights violations against the civilian population. However, Amnesty International concluded in a report published in 2003 that freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be 'restricted' in the camps by the Polisario Front.'8

26. whilst visiting the Moroccan authorities, the LI Delegation was given photographs and testimonies of abuses allegedly suffered by Moroccans at the hands of the Polisario in 'secret' prisons in the Tindouf camps. Some organisations, such as 'l'Association de Défense des Séquestrés à Tindouf', publish lists of allegedly missing people in the Polisario prisons 9.

27. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces are of the view that Algeria does not genuinely care about the welfare of the Saharawi people, but that it is simply keeping them in the refugee camps as pawns in order to protract the conflict. The party deplored the humanitarian sufferings of the 'Moroccan Sahara natives', held against their will in the camps.

28. The allegations of human rights abuses made by the parties, whether in the Western Sahara or in the Tindouf refugee camps are of concern to the LI Delegation. In the light of its concerns, the LI Delegation calls upon both parties to uphold international human rights standards.
7. Saharawi Human Rights Activists
Summary of discussions

29. The LI Delegation met with several prominent Saharawi human rights activists in Laayoune.

30. During its discussions, the LI Delegation found some openness on the subject of human rights in Morocco in general. Regrettably, the current climate of openness does not extend to discussion of rights and freedoms in the Western Sahara.

31. The vuInerability of the human rights community in Western Sahara is exercebated by the fact that many human rights organisation, for example the 'Forum for Truth and Justice - Sahara Branch', is authorised by the Moroccan authorities. The Forum was dissolved by court order in june 2003, on the grounds that the organisation had undertaken illegal activities likely to disturb public order and undermine the territorial integrity of Morocco. However, the activities described as illegal appeared to relate solely to members of the organisation exercising their right to express their opinions on self-determination for the people of the Western Sahara, and disseminating views on human rights issues to bodies such as international human rights organisations.

32 The LI Delegation was shown testimonies and photographic evidence of torture allegedly inflicted by the Moroccan authorities upon several Saharawi human rights defenders, who were allegedly subjected to harassment or intimidation around the time of the Monarch's visit to the Western Sahara just before our arrival.10

33. Around 450 Saharawi civilians remain 'disappeared', although some estimate that the total number could be as high as 1,500.11One of the activists expressed the view that in this respect the refugees in Tindouf have an advantage as there is established assistance from bodies such as the Red Cross to assist with tracing disappeared persons, and the international community, and even the Moroccan Government, has spoken about human rights abuses that have happened in the camps. However they remain silent in relation to the Western Sahara. The activists have a deep mistrust towards the authorities' approach to human rights within the territory.12

34. The human rights situation in the Western Sahara has been frequently criticised 13 and is of concern to the LI Delegation, particularly uninvestigated torture allegations, insufficient safeguards during detention and restrictions on the freedom of expression and assembly.
8. Morocco's Position
8.1 Summary of discussions

35. In the months preceding the LI Delegation's visit, the Monarch consulted with the political parties on their views regarding offering some autonomy to the Western Sahara, under Moroccan sovereignty. He repeated that there was no option for a referendum with an option of independence, and that the autonomy plan should be viewed as a unilateral 'offer' and did not require negotiation with the Polisario. It is speculated that the plan will be presented imminently.14

36. The LI Delegation noted the powerful role played by the Monarch in the dispute. The feeling was gained that if he widenedd the discussions to include independence then the political parties would begin to consider this, however whilst the Monarch ruled this out then official movement was impossible. The LI Delegation is pessimistic about the Monarch advocating independence as he has gained so much personal popularity within Morocco for his firm stance on the issue.

37. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moroccan stressed that there could be no solution without Algeria's involvement, because Algeria's support of the Polisario stands in the way of Morocco's territorial integrity. The LI Delegation agrees with this.

38. Much was made of the point that granting independence to the Western Sahara was likely to destabilise the entire country, as other regions, such as the towns of Ceuta and Mellilia, (which are still administered by Spain), would also seek independence from Spanish rule. The Secretary General of Foreign Affairs stated that if the Sahara region was weakened by being run by the Polisario, this would lead to fundamentalism, terrorism, the trafficking of small arms and other associated problems. He stressed that 'Morocco's security is yours' and that it was in the international community's interest to keep the region under firm Moroccan control.

39. All of the political parties that the LI Delegation met shared the view that Morocco has existed as a nation within approximately the same borders for over a thousand years and throughout most of its history was ruled by dynasties from the Sahara. They state that historically the Western Sahara swore allegiance to the Moroccan Sultan and held ties of sovereignty with his throne, prior to Spanish colonisation in 1886.

40. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion is interpreted selectively by the Government. They emphasise the parts which acknowledge that there were ties of allegiance between the tribes of the Sahara to Morocco before Spanish occupation15. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces party stated that the IC's conclusion that there were no actual 'ties of sovereignty' between the Sahara and Morocco was due to the ICJ basing its decision on international law as opposed to Arabic custom, which they believe would have been more appropriate.
8.2 The new plan from the Monarch

41. The Moroccan Government categorically rejects the Baker Plans and any idea of a referendum on independence. It proposes instead to offer a certain amount of autonomy to the inhabitants of the region to manage their own affairs in certain areas, such as social and cultural affairs. Other matters, such as foreign affairs and defense, would remain under Moroccan sovereignty.

42. During his recent visit to the region, the Monarch announced that he will renew the composition of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs, to have great Saharawi representation, and he also requested that it to be more open to civil society.

43. As stated above, the details of the autonomy plan have not yet been published.
9. MINURSO's16 Position

44. The LI Delegation was very fortunate to have the assistance of MINURSO during its visit. MINURSO assisted the LI Delegation to visit the camps in Tindouf, and also escorted it around the UN military team sites along the Berm. The LI Delegation met with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief of MINURSO.

45. Please note that the LI Delegation's visit was prior to the UN Secretary General's report of 19 April 2006 so the latest UN proposal, that the parties negotiate directly with each other, was not discussed.17
9.2 Summary of discussions

46. The LI Delegation learned that in MINURSO's opinion there was some ground for optimism and some for increasing concern.

47. On the positive side, the exchange of family visits between the Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps was resumed, after an 11 month hiatus, on 25 November 2006. The mail service will also recommence shortly and seminars involving members of civil society in both the Western Sahara and the refugee camps in the Tindouf area will begin soon.

48. Similarly, in contrast to an earlier Secretary General's Report,18 which stated that adherence to the conditions of the cease-fire had seriously deteriorated, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief of MINURSO was able to inform the LI Delegation that violations by both parties have decreased since the previous reporting period by almost 50 per cent. In addition, the Polisario have lifted restrictions on the movement of United Nations military obsewers, which had been in place for several years, allowing access to its military units for inspection purposes.19

49. Of concern to MINURSO is that frustration, due to the long impasse, is increasing in the Western Sahara and in Tindouf. The Special Representative observed that increasing numbers of violent clashes are a distinct possibility.

50. The allegations of human rights abuses, especially those relating to the freedom of expression in the Western Sahara, are alarming to MINURSO. At the same time, the Special Representative was frustrated by the unhelpful public rhetoric made by some of the Polisario leadership in response regarding a forthcoming 'intifada'.

51. The Special Representative also expressed frustration with the limited mandate of the mission. There have been several illegal immigrants who have recently been assisted by MINURSO, either in the deserts of the Western Sahara or in the Tindouf camps. MINURSO assists these refugees but acknowledges that it cannot do as much as is needed, both because it is beyond its mandate and also it stretches the mission's resources and its ability to discharge its core mandate. There is a need for additional assistance from other UN agencies.

52. The Special Representative acknowledged that the current entrenched positions of the Polisario and Morocco were unlikely to move any closer together under the current proposals on offer, including the Baker Plans, which had nothing new to offer to break the long deadlock.
10. Conclusions
10.1 Obstacles to an eventual solution

53. The LI Delegation concludes that the contrasting positions of Morocco and the Polisario are entrenched and show no signs of flexibility. With the increasing political tension, such an impasse is likely to generate an increase in violence from both sides. The LI Delegation does not believe that this would lead to an offer of independence to the Western Sahara but would instead provoke Morocco to come down heavy-handedly on the Polisario and its supporters in the Western Sahara.

54. An increase in violence would, however, trigger an overdue re-interest in the issue from the international community, which the LI Delegation thinks may be a factor tempting the Polisario to follow this course. Clearly, it is not desirable that the situation deteriorates in such a way before we re-address the issue and find a just, lasting and internationally acceptable political solution.

55. Many of the major actors on the world stage do not see the urgency of using their diplomatic capital to break the status quo in the region. Taking the United Sates as an example, Washington is too concerned with events in Iraq and lran to spend time solving a problem that at the moment is a silent conflict. It is a lowlevel conflict with an extremely small likelihood of military confrontation between the two key countries, Morocco and Algeria. In the status quo, Morocco will remain a loyal political ally of the West and Algeria will continue to be an important economic partner.

56. This apathetic view must change. As long as the Western Sahara does not advance on the international political agenda, many countries will find the status quo to be more tolerable than the shortterm fall-out of any of the possible solutions, and this short-sighted approach will re-bound against the international community.
10.2 Options to reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution
Option 1: Baker Plans I & II: Autonomy then a Referendum on independence

57. The Baker Plans, essentially those with a phase of autonomy with a referendum further down the line which has independence as an option, have the virtue of being endorsed by the Security Council and the backing of international law in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.

58. However, these Plans have not advanced the situation beyond the present long stalemate as Morocco rejects any Security Council plan which makes provision for a referendum which has independence as an option.
Option 2: Morocco's proposal: autonomy only

59. The Moroccan Government is presently concluding discussions regarding an offer of autonomy in certain areas, without a referendum, to the Western Sahara.

60. The LI Delegation believes that the Moroccan proposal should be judged on its own merit and could sewer as an interim solution if it serves the interests and aspirations of all inhabitants of the Western Sahara.
Option 3: Dual Referendum

61. A third method suggested by one of the Delegates is to hold a referendum in two stages:

i) The first referendum would be between integration into Morocco or autonomy.
If integration was chosen, this would be the final solution.

ii) If autonomy was chosen, then there would be a second referendum on either autonomy or independence.

62. This is similar to Baker Plan I, which suggested granting autonomy to the Western Sahara with a referendum between autonomy or independence five years afterwards, however with an additional preliminary stage of a referendum which gives the option of integration into Morocco.

63. Morocco might prefer the dual referendum to Baker Plan I as the first referendum does not provide any option for independence.
Option 4: Latest UN Report - Morocco and the Polisario to negotiate directly

64. In the latest report,20the UN Secretary General recommends that Morocco engage in direct talks with the Polisario, without preconditions, to settle the dispute over the Western Sahara. Negotiating without preconditions means that it would not be a precondition that the Polisario first recognise Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara and then discuss the autonomy to be 'granted' by Morocco. At the same time, it will not be a prerequisite that Morocco accepts a referendum which contains an independence option.

65. The hope is, that '..what was unthinkable in a plan endorsed or approved by the Security Council might not be beyond the reach of direct negotiations. Once the Security Council recognized the political reality that no one was going to force Morocco to give up its claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara, it would realize that there were only two options left: indefinite prolongation of the current deadlock in anticipation of a different political reality; or direct negotiations between the parties.'21

66. Acknowledging the political reality of the powerful role Algeria playas in this conflict, the UN Secretary General suggested that Algeria also be invited to join the negotiations. The LI Delegation supports this view.

67. The LI Delegation shared the reflection and regret in the UN Report that the International Court of Justice advisory opinion had been handed down more than 30 years ago and still remained un-implemented. In view of this, the LI Delegation supports the UN Secretary General's observation that a solution might only be reached if the parties worked directly together based upon both relevant principles of international law and current political realities.

68. The Report was at pains to emphasise that, 'After years of reliance on United Nations- sponsored plans, it should be made clear to the parties that the United Nations was taking a step back and that the responsibility now rested with them. This did not mean that the parties would henceforth be on their own....there [is] a consensus in the Council that any solution to the problem of Western Sahara has to be found in the framework, or under the auspices, of the United Nations.'22

69. The LI Delegation concludes that given the current intractability of the conflict and the entrenched positions of the parties to the current plans on offer, this new approach of direct negotiations is the best course to follow.

70. A compromise must be sought between international legality and political reality. The LI Delegation hopes that direct negotiations between the parties could pave the way to the long-awaited 'just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which would provide for the self-self-determination of the people of Western Sahara'.

71. The LI Delegation believes that direct negotiation between all parties concerned, for instance Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria without prior conditions, should be opened as soon as possible.

72. The LI Delegation believes that autonomy for the Western Sahara, as offered by the Monarch, should be seen as a positive step and judged on its own merits. Autonomy could be both an interim solution and also an end state.

73. Closer cooperation between all parties concerned and the UNHCR is necessary to improve the living conditions in the Tindouf refugee camps. UNHCR, the Red Cross and other international organisations should have full access to, and unrestricted movement around, the refugee camps.
UN MINURSO, Laayoune

* Mr Francesco Bastagli, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief of MINURSO
* Ms Carmen Johns, Coordinator, External Relations
* Ms Ingunde Fuehlau, Head of MINURSO Liaison Office Tindouf
* Ambassador Yilma Tadesse, Senior Representative of the African Union to MINURSO
* Various personnel stationed at MINURSO's team-sites along the Berm23

Polisario Frente/ Saharawi Arab Democratic Front, Tindouf, Algeria

* Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar, Saharawi Arab Democratic Front and Secretary General of the Polisario
* Ms Mariam Salek, Minister of Culture
* Mr Bachir Radhi, Councillor for Diplomatic Protocol and Information
* Mr Khalil Ahmed, Councelor Human Rights
* Mr Laarbi Ambarek, Councelor for Administration
* Mr Taleb Haidar, Councelor for African Union Relations
* Mr Ahmetou Ahmed Salem, Secretary General of the National Congress
* Mr Hafdalla Laabed , Head of the Economic Committee in the National Congress
* Mr Haboub Dakhil, Head of the Social Committee in the National Congress
* Mr Mohamed Salem Talhi, Member of the Political Committee in the National Congress

Saharawi Human Rights Activists, Laayoune

* Various - these shall remain anonymous for their protection

Moroccan Authorities, Laayoune

* Mr Hamid Chabar, Governor responsible for liaising with MINURSO
* Mr Ahmed Ouchtoubane, Head of Cabinet of the Governor responsible for liaising with MINURSO
* Mr Hamid Barez, Official, Office of the Governor responsible for liaising with MINURSO

Moroccan Authorities and political parties, Rabat

* . Mouvement Populaire (LI Member)
-Mr Driss Oussine [add position] and others
* Union Constitutionelle (LI Member)
- Mr Mohamed Tamaldou
- Mr Nihrane Abdesalam
* Mr Omar Hilal u, Secretary General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
* Union Socialiste Des Forces Populaires
- Mr Issa Elourdighi, Party Bureau Member
- Ms Malika Elhafidi, National Council Member
* Mr Hafid Amili, National Council Member

Fact Finding Visit to the Western Sahara
3-6 April 2006
3 April

Tindouf (Algeria)

* Visit Polisario refugee camps
* Meet with Saharawi (Polisario) Prime Minister and his cabinet
* Evening meeting with Saharawi human rights activists

4 April


* UN tour of military observation sites in the Southern sector of Western Sahara
* Dinner with Fransecso Bastagli, Kofi Annan's Special Representative for the Western Sahara and head of MINURSO

5 April


* Meet Moroccan Authorities in Laayoune

6 April

11am Meet Socialist Union of Popular Forces
2pm Meet Secretary General of Ministry for Foreign Affairs
3pm Meet Ministry of the Interior, responsible for coordination with MINURSO in Laayoune
4pm Meet Movement Populaire
6pm Meet Alliance Des Libertes
8pm Dinner with Union Constitutionelle
1 International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion of 16 October 1975
2 SADR is recognised by the African Union and over 70 states
3 In December 2005 army troops were deployed in the Western Sahara for the first time since 1999
4 Reported in http://www.einnews.com/moreofafrica/newsfeed-WesternSahara
5 Letters from the Secretary General of the Polisario to the Secretary General of the United Nations, various dates
6 Report of the Secretary General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, s/2005/648, 19 April 2006.
Estimates of the total number of refugees range between 90, 000 et 160, 000.
7 UNHCR, Conditions in Western Saharan refugee camps worsen as exile lengthens, food aid wanes, 28 March 2002 http://www.unhcr.org The U.N. refugee agency believes that the refugees are suffering from a lack of funding and irregular food aid deliveries due to lapses in donor contributions.
8 http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/mar-summary-eng
9 http://www.sahara-marocain.com/forum.php3?id article=315&retour=article315.html
10 Amnesty International has also expressed concern about this and several other human rights defenders in Western Sahara who have been arrested in apparent response to public criticism they had made of the conduct of the Moroccan security forces. Amnesty International, 'Morocco/Western Sahara: Saharawi human rights defender on trial', 3 April 2006 http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE29OO72OO6?open&of=ENG-MAR
11 http://www.asylumlaw.org/docs/westernsahara/usdosO2_westernsahara_cr.pdf
12 Amnesty International, Morocco/Western Sahara: Increasing openness on human rights, 24 January 2005, www.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGMDE29O1O2OO5 A new Equity and Reconciliation Commission, created in late 2003, has begun to investigate and document disappearances and other abuses that occurred between 1956 and 1999, but it has a limited mandate and no judicial authority.
13 Freedom House ranks the political rights of the inhabitants of Western Sahara as the worst in the world http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&country=6886&year=2005
14 [Whether the timing of the report will be affected by the latest UN Report which encourages the parties to negotiate directly with each other remains to be seen.]
15 International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion of 16 October 1975, penultimate paragraph: http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idecisions/isummaries/isasummary751016.htm

16 MINURSO's mandate to have sole and exclusive responsibility over all matters relating to a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco. While the organisation of the referendum has not been possible to date, MINURSO continues to monitor the cease-fire and carry out tasks in support of the process under a mandate periodically renewed by the Security Council
17 See the Conclusion for more information.
18 Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, S/2005/648, 13 October 2005
19 Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, S/2006/249, 19 April 2006
20 Ibid
21 Ibid, para 32
22 Ibid para 35
23 Fortified wall built by Morocco around three-quarters of the Western Sahara in order to assert administrative control over the territory.