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Western Sahara: Human Rights

Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Western Sahara; and what steps he is taking to assist in improvements to the human rights situation in that territory. (312312)

Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and our embassy in Rabat visited Layounne in December 2009 to assess the situation. A similar visit was also carried out in March 2009 to the refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria) by an official from our embassy in Algiers. We will continue our programme of visits and our embassy in Rabat is developing links with Moroccan and Sahrawi non-governmental organisations who work on the dispute.

The Government believe that greater openness and transparency on human rights by all the parties to the dispute would create a significantly better environment for political dialogue through the auspices of the UN. We support the call by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report, for the parties to remain engaged in a continuous and constructive dialogue with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to make progress on the human dimension of the conflict.