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From W. Sahara, Morocco Said to Block UN Torture Rapporteur Mendez

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 26 -- A briefing on Western Sahara had been promised in the UN Security Council on October, but got pushed back to the 26th to be after Morocco's October 21 election to a Council seat in 2012-13. As envoy Christopher Ross gave his briefing, behind closed doors, a Council diplomat left, telling Inner City Press that, "as usual, nothing surprising."

  Afterward South African Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu told the Press that the compromise human rights mechanism agreed to, that UN Special Rapporteurs could visit, was not being implemented. Only one rapporteurs has been there, and returned critical of the denial of cultural rights in Western Sahara.

  Later Inner City Press learned that another rapporteur, Juan Mendez who covers torture, has tried to visit but has received "push back" from Morocco. Mendez wanted to focus on Western Sahara, while Rabat wants him to come to Morocco. Mendez is reportedly conferring with Ross on how to move forward.

As Sangqu spoke with reporters, French Ambassador Gerard Araud walked by and laughed. Apparently his side, which opposes inclusion of a human rights mandate for the UN peacekeeping mission MINURSO, is winning: there is no need to talk.

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon & Ross: access for torture rapporteur Mendez not shown

  Germany through its Deputy Permanent Representative Berger expressed a wish that Morocco would hold talks prior to January. But, others say, Morocco has said that its "diplomatic calendar" is too full until January, when they take up their Council seat.

   Moroccan representatives were present around the Council and at the stakeout afterward but did not speak to the assembled media. Morocco's position on Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez would have been good to obtain; if received it will be published.

  On October 21, Inner City Press asked Morocco's foreign minister not only about Western Sahara -- in his response he called it "Moroccan Sahara" -- but also about Palestine, a question he did not answer. When he goes, we will report it. And so it goes at the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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