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Date of posting : April 24, 2020

When Norway Ventures into Unknown Territory

 If we ask the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Ine Eriksen Soreide, to locate Laayoune on a map, we are not sure to have an answer. Quite normal, since Oslo is 5,115 KM away from this city in the provinces of southern Morocco and one cannot speak of a place without knowing it, without seeing it. Let alone assessing what is going on there.

And yet Mrs. Eriksen Soreide, under the influence of the Algerian lobby which is very active in the Nordic countries, found time amid the coronavirus pandemic, which, as a reminder, did not spare her country, to tell an MP all “her concern” over what the Algerian Press Agency (APS) describes as “the situation of Sahrawi detainees in Moroccan prisons”.

The minister told MP Asmund Aukrust that she follows “regularly the situation of Sahrawi human rights defenders”, hence repeating the biased information spread by the Algerian propaganda.

Using specious and unfounded arguments, the Norwegian top diplomat even dragged with her in her fallacious judgment “Nordic countries, as well as other concerned countries” and -get this- “in close cooperation with the UN” .

Relating the report, in a faithful way or not, of this exchange between the crooked MP and the minister, the APS has made a serious blunder by evoking the humanitarian situation of populations held against their will in Tindouf, while forgetting that “these unwanted guests” are parked on the Algerian territory and that the humanitarian responsibility of these people should be taken by Algeria.

We would so much have liked an equally circumspect assessment of the Minister and the MP, who seems to be very interested in human rights principles, of the sufferings and frustrations endured by the sequestered populations in Tindouf where poverty and crime prevail, humanitarian aid is diverted and sold on the black market, young girls are kidnapped and raped and slavery is still a common practice.

The Norwegian minister and the MP should also have the same degree of concern over the situation in Algeria, regularly condemned by the European Parliament, UN bodies and NGOs regarding respect of human rights.

In less than a month, the European Parliament has condemned four times, even in the context of a global pandemic, the violent acts made by Algerian authorities against activists, journalists, human rights defenders and peaceful demonstrators.

The second inconsistency noted in the APS new story is the laughable reference to the appeal of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to release detainees so as to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the Algerian authorities continue to arrest, sue and imprison people.

As a reminder, a Royal pardon was granted on April 5 to 5,654 detainees in Morocco to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in prisons. Once again, the Norwegian Minister was unaware of this.