28 December 1998

Original: ENGLISH

Fifty-fifth session
Item 11 (b) of the provisional agenda


Report of the Working Group on Enforced
or Involuntary Disappearances



207. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted nine newly-reported cases to the Government of Morocco, one of which reportedly occurred in 1998. During the same period, the Working Group clarified 19 cases, on the basis of information received from the source. In 15 cases, it was reported that the persons concerned had been released after several years in secret detention. In three other cases, the persons had been released and had subsequently died as a result of ill-treatment. In one case, the person had died in custody. The Group retransmitted to the Government four cases, updated with new information from the source.

208. The majority of the 242 cases of disappearance transmitted to the Government were reported to have occurred between 1972 and 1980. Most of them concerned persons of Saharan origin who were reported to have disappeared in territories under the control of the Moroccan forces, because they, or their relatives, were known or suspected supporters of the Polisario Front. Students and better educated Saharans were reported to have been particularly targeted. In some instances, disappearances allegedly followed the mass arrest of persons after demonstrations or before visits of prominent persons or officials from other countries. One reported case concerns a 37-year-old man who was allegedly detained by the police in May 1997 in El Aioun.

209. Disappeared persons were reported to have been confined in secret detention centres, such as Laayoune, Qal'at M'gouna, Agdz and Tazmamart. Cells in some police stations or military barracks, and secret villas in the Rabat suburbs, were also allegedly used to hide the disappeared. Despite the release in 1991 of a large group of disappeared prisoners, several hundred other Western Saharans are said to remain unaccounted for and their families are reportedly still pursuing their inquiries with the Moroccan authorities and detention centres.

210. The nine newly-reported cases are alleged to have occurred between 1976 and 1998, mainly in El-Ayoun and Smara. The forces said to be responsible for the arrests include the Department of Territorial Security, the Criminal Investigation Police and the Royal Armed Forces.

211. During the period under review, the Government of Morocco provided the Working Group with information on one case, stating that the person concerned had never been arrested or detained.


Taken from the full Working Group report.

Human Rights in Morocco