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Morocco/Western Sahara

    December 14, 2015

    Today marks five years since Spain forcibly returned Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan national, to Morocco, breaching its international human rights obligations.

    Upon his arrival in Morocco, Ali Aarrass said he was held incommunicado and tortured for 12 days in a secret detention centre in Témara near the capital, Rabat. He is now serving a 12-year prison term for participating in and procuring arms for a criminal group after an unfair trial, based on a “confession” obtained under torture. In September 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture visited him in prison and detected signs of torture compatible with his testimony.

    Although the Moroccan authorities announced in May 2014 that they were opening an investigation into Ali Aarrass’ torture allegations, his lawyers recently revealed that the investigation had been closed. They said they had not been informed that any witnesses were questioned or any locations identified were searched, and have yet to receive the medical report of the examination he undertook a year ago.

    June 09, 2014
    Lahecen El-Filali (L) holds a photo of his daughter, Amina El-Filali, as he attends a news conference with his wife Zahera Lmealme and his other daughter, Hamida, in Rabat March 21, 2012.

    Amina Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison in March 2012. She was 16 years old. Her desperate act showed the depth of her pain and despair: she must have felt that nobody was there to help her.

    We soon learned that Amina had been raped in her small Moroccan town, by a man she was then forced to marry. Imagine being married to your rapist, to be forced to see that person all the time – it would be devastating. 

    He married her because Moroccan law allows rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim, if she is aged under 18.

    Amina’s death caused an outcry in Morocco and throughout the region. What shocked people most was that this marriage was sanctioned by law, as well as by a judge who authorized it. It revealed that the state was complicit in covering up a rape. And instead of protecting her as the victim of a crime, the law victimized Amina a second time. 

    This kind of legislation doesn’t just exist in Morocco, but also in Algeria and Tunisia. 

    SHAME IS A POWERFUL FORCE 

    This legal environment prevents women and girls from reporting rape. A victim is not considered as a survivor of a grave act of violence.

    June 09, 2014

    When Amnesty launched My Body My Rights, our global campaign on sexual and reproductive rights, earlier this year, we were met by unfavourable headlines in the Moroccan media. It’s time to set the record straight, writes Aurelia Dondo, North Africa campaigner.

    Our message was clear. Women and girls have the right to live free from sexual violence and have the right to bodily integrity. These rights are known in international law as sexual and reproductive rights. They are universal human rights and governments must ensure they are respected, protected and fulfilled. But some within the Moroccan media were quick to distort the message.

    By depicting Amnesty International as an imperialist organization encouraging sexual misconduct, these media outlets twisted the debate and muddied the issue. In doing so, they disregarded the plight of the survivors of sexual violence we are campaigning for.

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