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Date of posting : June 24, 2018

MEPs Demand Urgent Action to End Ordeal of Women Held Against their Will in Tindouf Camps

“Unacceptable”, “scandalous”, “deplorable”, MEPs, meeting Tuesday in committee in Brussels, did not mince their words to denounce the situation of Sahrawi women held against their will in the Tindouf camps, demanding urgent action by the European Union to put an end to the ordeal of these women, victims of polisario abuses with the complicity of Algeria.

During a debate at the European Parliament on a petition presented by Spanish activist Elisa Pavon on behalf of the “Freedom is their right” campaign, a collective representing foster and adoption families in Spain of as many as 50 young girls held against their will by the polisario on Algerian soil, MEPs called on the European Commission to act to put pressure on Algeria, which supports separatists, to guarantee fundamental rights, in particular freedom of movement.

Outraged by the poignant testimonies stating forced marriages, deprivation of liberty, ill-treatment, torture…, the MEPs called for an action with the Algerian government as well as Spain, given the fact that several girls hold Spanish nationality.

The representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) said that this issue is of particular importance in the action of the European executive, advocating a coordinated approach with Spain and the EU delegation in Algeria.

For her part, MEP Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea castigated the lies of the polisario who “defends the indefensible” by justifying the deprivation of freedom imposed on these girls under guise of the traditions of the Sahrawi society. “Traditions should not take precedence over fundamental rights,” said MEP Ines Ayala Sender, who called for pressure on the polisario to restore freedom to girls held against their will.

These girls are held by force and are deprived of their passports, therefore of their freedom, added MEP Rosa Estaras Ferragut, who rejected any risky attempt to justify the ill-treatment suffered by the victims and refer to such crimes as “private violence”.

In her turn, MEP Josep-Maria Terricabras questioned the European Commission on what it intends to do to protect these girls, while demanding to clarify the responsibilities, whether that of Algeria or the polisario.