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Western Sahara: Human Rights

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2361W, on Western Sahara: human rights, whether the Minister of State has raised the human rights situation in Western Sahara in discussions with the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Fassi Fihri. (205779)

Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri and I discussed a range of issues relating to Morocco and Western Sahara in the UK-Morocco Ministerial Dialogue meeting of July 2007. On 22 April 2008,1 co-chaired the third round of the Dialogue with Deputy Foreign Minister Latifa Akherbach in Rabat, where we again discussed recent developments relating to Western Sahara. I reiterated the UK’s support for the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, and stressed the need for both parties to work towards a negotiated settlement providing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. I also encouraged greater transparency in the field of human rights in Western Sahara in order to foster greater confidence between the parties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham of 25 April 2008, Official Report, column 2325W, on Western Sahara: human rights, whether the ambassador has discussed the human rights situation in occupied Western Sahara with Moroccan government officials; and when members of the ambassador's staff last visited the occupied Western Sahara. (205780)

The UK is concerned about the humanitarian impact of the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara. Our ambassador in Rabat discusses a range of issues relating to Western Sahara with Moroccan officials. The most recent high level discussions took place at the UK-Morocco Ministerial Dialogue Forum in Rabat on 22 April, where I discussed a range of issues, including human rights, with the Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister, Latifa Akherbach.

Diplomatic staff at our embassy in Rabat visited Western Sahara in May 2006. I anticipate further such visits in the near future.