Human Rights Under Occupation

Watching Western Sahara (WWS) is a collaborative project that raises international awareness on human rights abuses taking place in the Morocco-occupied Western Sahara. It focuses on supporting the work of at-risk Sahrawi media activists and citizen journalists by curating and sharing their videos so that international human rights monitors, reporters and others can access them and conduct investigations and reporting. Because Morocco bans the presence of international monitors and media in Western Sahara, these videos provide one of the only windows into the territory, where Sahrawi human rights defenders, journalists and activists are routinely and severely repressed.

To expose these abuses and strengthen independent media in the context of a little-known occupation by an extremely repressive state, this initiative has two complementary approaches: the support and training of Sahrawi citizen journalists, and the development of an online platform for curated and contextualized videos documenting human rights issues in Western Sahara for monitoring, reporting and advocacy purposes.

Through in person and online trainings on effective filming and online distribution, collaboration in curating eyewitness videos and the development of relationships with NGOs and media, Sahrawi partners have become trusted sources of reporting for international media and human rights monitors banned from entering the territory.

In partnership with the Berkeley Human Rights Investigations Lab and Meedan among others, we collaborate with Sahrawi partners in distributing online videos to international journalists, human rights monitors and advocates. By curating verified videos on an interactive website and publishing periodic reports, Watching Western Sahara promotes greater awareness and understanding of the large social movements and persistent human rights abuses that take place in Western Sahara but go largely unreported due to censorship imposed by Moroccan authorities. Our work has contributed to reporting by The Washington Post, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Human Rights Watch among others.

Partners: Equipe Media, Berkeley Human Rights Investigations Lab

Supported by: Meedan, Dimes Foundation

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