Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spain denies asylum to activist convicted in a military court in Morocco

On January 19th, 2015, Spain denied political asylum to the young Saharawi activist Hassanna Aalia. In 2010, Aalia participated in the protests that took place in the Gdeim Izik camp in Morocco. According to the newspaper el País, here, while on a trip in Spain, Hassanna saw that his name appeared in a list published by the Moroccan authorities. He was accused of organizing the protests and provoking the death of eleven Moroccan police officers.

In 2013, a military court in Rabat convicted Hassanna Aalia, who was trialed in absentia, to life imprisonment. According to this news article, Aalia claims that his trial in Morocco was an "authentic farce", because as a civilian he cannot be trialed in a military court. He accuses Spain of being Morocco’s accomplice in legitimizing the decision of the court in Rabat, which does not have jurisdiction over the Western Sahara.

After Spain’s asylum rejection, Hassanna has received the support of many human rights associations as well as the major political parties in Spain, excluding the ruling party, the Partido Popular. Spanish authorities have been widely criticized for this and similar cases involving Saharawi activists. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights already questioned the Spanish asylum system after Spain declared the expulsion of thirty Saharawi men.

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