WASHINGTON, D.C./Boujdour, Western Sahara, November 2022 —Three American women have
filed complaints with the US Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division
(DOT ACPD) against Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan Kingdom’s airline.
The incident occurred while they were heading to visit their friends in Boujdour, Western Sahara on May 23, 2022. They were forcibly turned back when they landed at Laayoune Airport. Twelve men and six women Moroccan agents physically overpowered them and placed them against their will on a plane back to Casablanca. During the scuffle, one of the women sustained multiple bruises on her arms and another had her bra pulled up to expose her breast to the passengers. In the cultural context of the passengers on the plane, this was a serious form of harassment and violence against women.
Adrienne Kinne said, “We were not told the legal basis for our detention or illegal expulsion though we asked repeatedly. I believe that it was a violation of international human rights law. Regardless, we hope that
by filing these complaints, we will bring attention to Morocco’s restrictions on freedom of travel that both visitors and Saharawis experience when traveling to Western Sahara.”
Lacksana Peters said, “I have never been to Morocco or Western
Sahara before. This kind of treatment leads me to think that we
should boycott Morocco. They must be hiding something.”
Kaufmyn additionally said, “The White House and State
Department must stop enabling the Moroccan government in
their human rights abuses. If they care about human rights, they
will pressure Royal Air Maroc to redress this wrong. We seek
remuneration for the damages sustained including physical pain,
trauma from sexual assault, severe emotional distress, and the
loss of thousands of dollars on an aborted trip.”