A human rights delegation led by Robert F. Kennedy's daughter says it witnessed acts of intimidation and violence against critics of the Moroccan government's control of the disputed Western Sahara.

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights said in a statement circulated Tuesday that the delegation, led by its president Kerry Kennedy, also witnessed the overwhelming presence of Moroccan security forces and widespread human rights violations.

Morocco took over the mineral-rich former Spanish colony in 1976 and annexed it, fighting Polisario Front rebels until a truce in 1991. It has offered Western Sahara wide-ranging autonomy but the Polisario wants a referendum with independence as an option.

The Kennedy Center said its delegation was followed by secret police and physically prevented from observing an attack on peaceful protesters.