Statement on Human Rights Watch’s October 2014 Report on the Tindouf Camps
Washington, DC (October 22, 2014) — On October 18, 2014, Human Rights Watch released its second-ever report on the Polisario-run refugee camps located near Tindouf in southwest Algeria, “Off The Radar.” Below is MACP’s official statement on the report:
Human Rights Watch’s recent report on the Polisario-run Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria raises serious questions about HRW’s commitment to providing a meaningful and objective account of the conditions there. The information provided in the report paints a disturbing portrait of a system grounded in authoritarian rule under the nearly-40-year tenure of Mohammed Abdelaziz: severe limits to movement, a ban on political parties other than the Polisario; and a serious lack of independent civil society organizations, among other indicators.
Disturbingly, despite its own catalogue of abuses, HRW’s conclusions gloss over and minimize them as not constituting systematic abuses and violations. The chasm between the evidence HRW provides and its assessment of the situation is especially glaring when it comes to the issue of freedom of movement. HRW asserts that travel within the camps is free; and yet in HRW’s own words, travel is “regulated by SADR security and nighttime curfew;” travel outside the camps requires approval from the Polisario Interior Ministry and the Algerian Military Communications office in Tindouf; and if such a permit is received, the report describes how the authorities check the contents of the car, then the car must pass through two checkpoints – one manned by the Polisario, the other by Algeria – before leaving the camps, and two additional checkpoints outside of the camps. The report also reveals that refugees wait years (or lifetimes) to receive permission for an Algerian passport to travel abroad; that those passports must be immediately surrendered upon return; and that Algeria grants only temporary, 3-month visas for travel within the country.
We note, too, that HRW does not have a permanent presence in the camps, unlike in other regions that it monitors.
One can only conclude that the violations reported by HRW are but the tip of the iceberg.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 301.873.4484
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
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