Paloma Lopez denounces "arbitrary" conviction of Saharawi journalist Waleed Al Batal

Brussels, June 10, 2017 (SPS) - MEP Paloma Lopez denounced the "arbitrary" nature of the accusations and court proceedings that led to the 14-month prison sentence imposed on Sahrawi journalist Waleed Al Batal, urging the European Union (EU) Put pressure on the Moroccan authorities of occupation to obtain his release, as well as that of his father Salek Al Batal.

"The arbitrary nature of the charges and court proceedings reflect the colonial nature of the Moroccan administration in the occupied territories of Western Sahara", she wrote in a question addressed to the European Commission.

According to Paloma Lopez, the sentence imposed on the Saharawi journalist, Waleed Al-Batal, is an act of retaliation for his legitimate and peaceful activism in favor of human rights in Western Sahara.

"He has been sentenced as retaliation following his participation in Smara in the demonstrations for the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people," she said, denouncing the arrest of the father of the Saharawi journalist, Salek Al Batal, for participating in similar events in Smara in 2009.

The MEP wondered, as such, about the measures taken by the EU so that the sentence imposed on Waleed Al Batal is annulled and that the journalist and his father are released.

Paloma Lopez regretted that the European Union (EU) was merely repeating, every time it was questioned about the human rights situation in Western Sahara, that it was monitoring them and that it was continuing the political dialogue with Morocco, without even raising the possibility of imposing sanctions, as the situation "worsens".

The MEP considered, in this context, that the judicial reforms carried out by the EU in its attempt to eliminate the colonial methods of the Moroccan administration have failed.

On December 5, 2016, a court of first instance sentenced Mr. Waleed Al-Batal to 14 months in prison. The latter refutes all the accusations against him after his participation in a peaceful demonstration in favor of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in Western Sahara.

If the Chief of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, affirmed she knew the situation of Waleed Al-Batal for having informed the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), she argues, however, that she has no information on the case of his father Salek Al-Batal.

Nevertheless, Mogherini assured that "the EU regularly expresses its concerns" regarding alleged cases of ill-treatment or non-respect of freedom of expression.

"Our political dialogue goes hand in hand with our convinced and firm support through our programs of financial support for institutions and for civil society to reform the judicial system in Morocco so that it is in compliance with the international standards and the constitution ", she wrote in her answer to Paloma Lopez.

The Chief of European Diplomacy reiterated, in this context, her support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western in the framework of arrangements consistent with the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations. (SPS)