Morocco must immediately end the illegal detention of young Saharawis
On 7th July 2015 at 9.30pm, the Moroccan security forces arrested 15-year old Abujahid Abid. His mother described what happened to members of Adala UK: "My son went out about 8pm to do a couple of things I had asked him to do, but he didn't come home. I went out and asked his friends who were playing in the street if they had seen him and they told me that some plain clothes Moroccan policemen had been asking about my son, but they couldn't tell me if they had taken him or not. I was really worried and I didn't sleep all night.
"The next day, at 4pm, plain clothes officers came to my house to tell me that my son had been detained, but didn't giving me any reason why or tell me when or how it had happened."
The authorities accused the young Saharawi of breaking one of the windows of the Moroccan People's Bank on Calle Smara in the occupied city of el Aaiún. According to the account Abujahid gave to members of AdalaUK, he did not throw any rocks at anyone nor at any buildings. He was detained at the police station, in terrible conditions, for 34 hours before he was finally released, though on a conditional basis.
At 2pm on 9th July, Abujahid appeared before the King's attorney in the court of appeal in el Aaiún who referred his case to the judge. His mother was present and protested his innocence and denounced the way in which he was detained and interrogated; without the presence of a family member or legal representative. The judge released Abujahid, setting the sentencing date for 1st October
Abujahid told members of AdalaUK about his arrest "I left the house and was walking down the street when a police car stopped and some officers got out and made me get in the car. They didn't tell me why but they didn't hurt me or insult me or anything whilst I was in the car with them. Within no time we'd arrived at the station, I was cuffed behind my back and they put me in a room where six plain clothes officers blindfolded me and began hitting me and slapping me around the head and insulting me at the same time. The next morning some police officers ordered me to sign and put my fingerprints on various documents, but they wouldn't let me read it or tell me what the content was."
It's important to note at this point that Abujahid and his family have since been dragged from their house and beaten by police officers before they set fire to their house.
In a recent report, AdalaUK has documented 360 cases of Saharawi children who have suffered abuse at the hands of the authorities. Abujahid is one of these cases. These abuses totally contravene the 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. AdalaUK submitted the report on the detention and torture of Saharawi children to the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May this year. In response, the Moroccan delegation recognised that children represent no threat but have taken no responsibility and continue to reject the reality of the situation faced by Saharawi children detained for political motives or for their involvement in demonstrations seeking the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.
Prepared for publication by Ekaterina Santos