A delegation from the Rafto Fundation for Human Rights was 10 December expelled from occupied Western Sahara by Moroccan police. The group entered the territory to discuss the Glencore-SeaBird seismic studies with local human rights activists.
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A delegation from the Rafto Fundation was to follow up on the organisation of former Rafto laureate, Sidi Mohamed Daddach, during a visit to Western Sahara. The delegation, consisting of Kristina Vågen Fiskum and Bjørnar Østerhus Dahle, was, however, detained by Moroccan police and escorted out of the territory.
“We were awoken by civilian Moroccan police at 08:50 AM European time. They refused to identify themselves”, they explained in a telephone call to the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
They explain how the police confiscated their passports, and returned them at a border control on the outskirts of the city.
“We protested, but were met with head shaking and negative answers. When we protested further, we were met with aggressive French, and it ended with me being physically pushed into the taxi”, Dahle explains over the phone from Western Sahara. As they later arrived Marrakech, they were placed under police surveillance
"Totally unacceptable", the acting executive director of the Rafto Foundation told in a release
. The group arrived in Western Sahara the night before the expulsion.
During their stay, they met with representatives from the Rafto Award laureate Daddach’s human rights organisation CODAPSO. They discussed the violations in the territory, and the engagement of the Norwegian seismic company SeaBird, which is doing a seismic survey outside the coast of Western Sahara in cooperation with the Moroccan government and the Swiss company Glencore. SeaBird's activities have been referred to in in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet
for the past two days. Former UN Legal Counsel has called SeaBird's exploration in violation of international law.
Daddach was awarded with the Rafto Prize for Human Rights in 2002, after having spent 24 years in Moroccan jails.
This was the fifth Norwegian delegation evicted from Western Sahara this year. Read about the former 4 delegations here
. Chair of the Rafto Foundation, Arne Lynngård, was evicted from Western Sahara in 2005.