POWs provisions not applicable to Moroccans sequestered in Algeria, fm
Morocco-Algeria, Politics, 12/21/2000
Provisions governing the exchange of prisoners of war (pows) are not applicable to the Moroccans sequestered in Algeria, Moroccan foreign affairs and cooperation minister, Mohamed Benaissa, said on Wednesday.
These provisions are not applicable to the Moroccans sequestered in Algeria, because, legally speaking, Morocco is not in a war with this country, Benaissa told the house of representatives.
The issue of the Moroccan detainees falls under the Algerian sovereignty and under the international conventions that put prisoners under the responsibility of the state where they are detained, he said.
Benaissa underlined that the issue should be addressed from a purely humanitarian standpoint, as "these persons were kidnapped and taken to the territory of the neighboring country (Algeria)." "these persons should return sound and safe to their families."
"The separatists (polisario) and behind them the Algerians, have always refused to tackle this dossier and persist in their refusal," he said, adding that the Polisario and Algeria "rather prefer to deal with the issue according to their interests. They liberate small groups of the sequestered people intermittently whenever such a move serves their propaganda," he said.
Benaissa noted that Morocco has been closely following up the detainees issue. He recalled, in this connection, that several initiatives were launched with international and national bodies, including the American congress, which showed a keen interest in the issue, especially the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Benjamin Gallmin.
The Moroccan government is still following the dossier through the International Red Cross, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union, he said, adding that a commission, chaired by France (acting chairman of the European Union) will head for the United Nations to request the liberation, without conditions, all Moroccan servicemen still in captivity.
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