U.S. Congressional Leaders Hail Morocco's "Constant Commitment to Human Rights Protection"; Reiterate U.S. Support for Autonomy to End Western Sahara Conflict

Apr 19, 2011, 11:47 ET from Moroccan American Center for Policy

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of 18 U.S. Congressional leaders led by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) hailed Morocco's continuing efforts and "constant commitment to human rights protections," calling on the U.S. to address "human rights concerns in the Polisario camps" in southern Algeria. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Members cited Morocco's "real human rights progress," including the creation of a new "wholly independent human rights institution."

The Members wrote, "As you know, King Mohammed VI has already launched an initiative that will greatly enhance the status of human rights protections in that country, particularly in the Western Sahara; it is a significant step that deserves our support. We believe this initiative provides the basis for achieving real monitoring and respect for human rights [...]"

They noted that Morocco's bold initiative "will result in a truly unique and vital contribution to human rights protection in the region," particularly considering the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.  As the first Arab country to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address past abuses, Morocco has long been a leader in human rights protection in the region.

In their letter, the Congressional leaders also underscored the "longstanding American policy, supported by bipartisan majority in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate" to peacefully resolve the three-decades old Western Sahara dispute by supporting a compromise solution based on autonomy for the territory under Moroccan sovereignty and "provid[ing] visible and concrete evidence of the U.S. commitment to this solution."  This echoes House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's recent letter to Sec. Clinton calling for increased U.S. support for a compromise autonomy solution, noting that resolving the Western Sahara conflict will "help create a more secure region and advance U.S. national security interests."

Following her meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi-Fihri last month in Washington DC, Sec. Clinton reiterated that "[s]tarting with the Clinton Administration and continuing through the Bush Administration and up to the present in the Obama Administration, we have stated our belief that Morocco's autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible – a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity."

** For full text of the letter and list of signers, please visit: [http://www.moroccanamericanpolicy.org/US_House_Ltr_Clinton_HR_041511.pdf].

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SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy