Mahjoub El Haiba, Interministerial Delegate for Human Rights, slammed the "deliberate confusion" caused by Human Rights watch’s latest report on human rights in Tindouf.
"It is important to note the deliberate confusion caused by the report which provides little credible data and biased and incomplete conclusions", Mr. El Haiba said in an exclusive interview with MAP.
For El Haiba, the report feeds into amalgamation by absolving Algeria from any responsibility, putting the Polisario on an equal footing with Morocco in the international arena, and drawing a parallel between the situation of human rights in Tindouf camps and in the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
Asked about the timing of the publication of the HRW report, the interministerial delegate believes that the timing corresponds to a schedule and an agenda and paves the way for a certain preconceived notion, adding that the release of the report coincides with the Sahara issue evolution at the UN.
El Haiba denounces, in this interview, the lack of objectivity of HRW which openly lobbies in favor of extending the mandate of the MINURSO to include human rights monitoring, explaining that while the organization alludes to repeated attempts by Morocco’s opponents to have the UN Security Council assign to MINURSO or any other UN mechanism human rights monitoring, it ignores the Council’s repeated calls for “refugees” registration and census.
El Haiba noted that the report’s ultimate goal is to absolve Algeria, as a host country, from its responsibilities, validate the Polisario as an acceptable interlocutor in human rights matters, even raising it to the level of a state entity, in order to conclude to the claim of expanding the MINURSO mandate to human rights monitoring in the Moroccan Sahara, a vain wish of Morocco’s opponents.
He also cited as another aspect of the report’s bias, the organization’s evident will to recognize “SADR” as a full-fledged state, arguing that it is a member of the African Union, recognized by several states and quoting its so-called “ministers”, after having made a truncated introduction to the Sahara conflict, describing Morocco as “occupier”. He insisted that this description has never been used by any UN body and is in total contradiction with the said report which denies any political aspect in its writing approach.
Tackling the report shortcomings, he said that the report falls a long way short of meeting the professional and ethical requirements, as well as the recognized standards established at the international level for assessing human rights situations and establishing reports.
"This document reflects a blatant bias and deliberate ignorance of the reality of the human rights situation in this part of the Algerian territory, in a bid to mislead the international public opinion clouded by HRW’s claims of impartiality", he said, explaining that the team, which conducted the so-called "investigation", is composed of two researchers, including a known activist member of a Polisario subsidiary in the southern provinces who obtained full support from the "protocol" of the chimerical "SADR" which assigned a man to escort him all along his mission.
"Besides this fact, it is fair to say that this investigation is far from meeting the investigation determinants, as this would have resulted in the absolute and undeniable truth that there are, in these camps, Moroccans held against their will on the Algerian soil", he added.
The official further explained that the report totally discredits HRW which only cites "isolated human rights violations", a single case of forced disappearance, a single case of arbitrary detention, two torture cases, no political prisoner, quasi inexistence of slavery and no more than 25 common law prisoners.
He added that even access to the Tindouf camps is "in fact an exception" as several other organizations never received the Algerian authorities’ green light to go to the camps to evaluate and report on the human rights situation there.
For Al Haiba, the report does not aim to evaluate the human rights score in these camps, but rather conveys the hidden idea of expanding monitoring and generalizing it to the Moroccan Sahara. This shows an intentional will to resume the idea of expanding the MINURSO mandate, he deplored.
He said, in this context, that the Moroccan authorities “firmly reject this plot meant to compare the Kingdom of Morocco to a puppet entity born from the Algerian army’s will, and whose totalitarian and repressive practices, occurring in southern Algeria, remind us of bygone times”.