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Tone Moe: UN, states and ICRC failure to act on abuses in Western Sahara encourages Morocco to escalate violations

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Oslo (Norway) 20 November 2021 (SPS)- Norwegian human rights expert and member of the International Team of Lawyers defending Sultana Khaya, Tone Sørfonn Moe, asserted in her statement before the Webinar of Solidarity with Sultana Khaya, organized Yesterday by Saharawi Commission of Human Rights (CONASADH), that the failure of the international Community to act and stop Moroccan human rights violations is encouraging Rabat to persist and esclatae these abuses.
The international expert estimated that human rights violations against Saharawi citizens increased largely after Morocco violated the 1991 ceasefire last November 13, 2020, escalating thus its abuses, considering that “this wave hit Sultana and her family hard.”
Moe regretted that “those who can help -the UN, the states, the ICRC and the international community- are not doing enough.”
Following is Tone Moe’s full statement delivered Friday during the Webinar of Solidarity with Sultana Khaya organized online by the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights:
Webinar Sultana Khaya
Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this important conference and for organizing this event to shed light on the situation of Sultana and Luara Khaya, having lived under house arrest for a year. 
My name is Tone Sørfonn Moe and I operate as international legal representative on behalf of Sultana and Luara Khaya together with an international team of lawyers 
The team consist of Norwegian law professor and former chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenæs and international human rights lawyers Jared Genser and Stephanie Herrman of Perseus Strategies. 
As a legal team we have taken several steps. 
This includes both public advocacy for the immediate release of Sultana and Luara, close dialogue and advocacy with international human rights organizations, in addition to the submitting of urgent appeals to the UN Special Procedures and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. 
By now, the Khaya sisters have garnered broad international recognition for the abuses they have endured under Moroccan occupation. But it’s not enough. Sultana and Luara remains unprotected in the occupied territories, just as all other Saharawi’s. 
As Sultana explains it, “Everybody is watching us, but the police come in the cover of darkness, and no one can stop them”. 
The house arrest of Sultana together with her sister Luara has now lasted for a year. 
I remember very well the first day of the house arrest. It was in the context of a massive crackdown in the occupied territories following the end of the ceasefire. 
Violations grew graver and more dangerous by the day. The wave came fast and strongly, with one specific aim; to silence the call for self-determination coming from Saharawi’s living under occupation. 
This wave hit Sultana and her family hard, and Sultana was placed under house arrest. Police were standing guard day and night, terrorizing the family, attacking her 84-year-old mother, her sisters and herself. 
Ever since, the house arrest has grown worse and even more dangerous, with physical assaults and attack with stones in February to the cutting of electricity in March, to the raids and abduction of three activists and subsequent rape of both Sultana and Luara in May to yet another raid in August with Sultana contracting COVID-19, to this day – where Sultana – only four days ago – where yet again raped by Moroccan agents entering her house in the cover of darkness. 
Meanwhile, the perpetrators are a daily presence in the women’s lives, threatening to enter the home again or even worse – to kill them.
Four days ago, our team submitted an Urgent Appeal to the UN Special Procedures, asking them to do more to protect Sultana and Luara. 
Those who can help – the UN, the states, the ICRC and the international community - are not doing enough. 
Failure to act - is licensing the State to act with impunity, fostering the violations and increasing the brutality of the abuses. 
The closed-down territory of occupied Western Sahara serves as a vicious reminder of such failures, with the case of Sultana and Luara hitting us all in the face with its toxic cocktail of terror and abuse. 
Let’s together ensure that the brutality serves as a wakeup call. Lets remind the victims of the abuse that they are not alone. Let’s together ensure and let us not rest until justice is achieved, no matter how long and painful that road may be." (SPS)
090/500/60 (SPS)