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Western Sahara

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Government of Morocco's recent statements on the proposals of Mr. James Baker on Western Sahara. [108753]

We understand that at this point, responses to the proposals of James Baker have been kept private. However, I welcome the views of King Mohammed VI of Morocco in his message (read by Driss Jettou, the Moroccan Prime Minister) of 14 March, to the 5th CEN-SAD summit (the Community of Sahel and Sahara states). This renewed the Kingdom of Morocco's readiness for dialogue and negotiation with a view to finding a political solution' to this dispute.The United Kingdom supports fully the efforts of the UN Secretary General (UNSG) and his Personal Envoy, James Baker to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara dispute that provides for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights abuses in Western Sahara. [108754]

FCO officials and I call regularly upon the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to take action on human rights issues. In February this year, I called for the immediate release of the remaining 1,160 Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario Front, some held for over 25 years and some are in poor physical and mental health. In April this year officials took action to bring to the attention of the Moroccan authorities concerns over the trial, sentencing and prison conditions of Ali Salem Tamek, a Saharawi activist. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, taking action with the appropriate authorities where necessary.