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Morocco/Western Sahara

    August 11, 2017

    At least 66 people detained over mass protests in Morocco’s northern Rif region have reported suffering torture and other ill-treatment in custody including being heavily beaten, suffocated, stripped naked, threatened with rape and insulted by police, sometimes to force them to “confess”, said Amnesty International.

    The organization is calling on Morocco’s authorities to ensure a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into their claims, and for any “confessions” extracted under duress to be excluded from trial proceedings. One protester is also under investigation for “falsely reporting” that police tortured him.

    “These protesters took to the streets calling for social justice and better services, yet have faced torture and other ill-treatment, in the form of brutal beatings, rape threats, insults and other abuse. It is vital that the authorities thoroughly investigate these claims and that those behind this reprehensible abuse are brought to justice,” said Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director for Amnesty International.

    July 19, 2017
      A court today convicted 23 Sahrawi activists over deadly clashes in Western Sahara after failing to exclude evidence tainted by allegations of torture during the trial hearings, said Amnesty International.   Early this morning the Rabat Court of Appeals sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from two years to life imprisonment in connection with the clashes that followed the forcible dismantlement of a protest camp in Gdim Izik, Western Sahara, in 2010, killing 11 members of the security forces and two Sahrawi protesters.  
    July 17, 2017
    Verdict Awaited for Sahrawis Charged in Fatal 2010 Clashes   The Moroccan judicial authorities should ensure that upcoming verdicts in a mass trial are not based on confessions or statements implicating other defendants obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.  
    June 07, 2017

    Moroccan authorities are flouting their international obligations to give protection to refugees by entrapping a group of 25 Syrian refugees in a desert area on the border between Morocco and Algeria and denying them access to asylum and urgent humanitarian assistance said Amnesty International.

    The group of Syrians, including 10 children, have been stuck for the past two months in a buffer zone within Moroccan territory, 1km from the oasis of Figuig in Morocco and 5km away from Beni Ounif in Algeria. They had been surviving on informal assistance and supplies from locals in Figuig facilitated by the Moroccan border police, but according to the refugees this stopped on Friday morning. The Moroccan border police has thus far not given Moroccan human rights groups and humanitarian organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), access to the area.

    June 02, 2017

    The Moroccan authorities have carried out a chilling wave of arrests rounding up scores of protesters, activists and bloggers in the Rif, northern Morocco, over the past week following months of protests demanding an end to marginalization of communities and better access to services in the region, said Amnesty International.

    Some of those detained have been denied prompt access to their lawyers in police custody. In some cases lawyers who were able to see their clients in court in Al Hoceima said they bore visible injuries and reported being beaten upon arrest. There are also fears that peaceful protesters and bloggers covering the protests on social media could be among those facing trial and potential state security-related charges.

    April 18, 2017

    The UN must prioritize human rights monitoring for the situation in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps across the border in Tindouf, Algeria, Amnesty International urged ahead of a Security Council vote next week on 27 April to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping presence in the area.

    The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) does not currently have a mandate to document or report on the human rights situation despite the fact that abuses continue to be committed by both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement, which administers Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, southern Algeria.

    June 28, 2016

    Tomorrow’s trial of seven journalists and activists in Morocco for training citizen journalists could set a dangerous precedent for restricting freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    Seven defendants face trial in Rabat after running a citizen journalism training programme using smartphones.

    “The trial of these journalists is a worrying test case for press freedom in Morocco. The accusations that journalists and citizens reporting freely in their country are compromising state security, and the risk that they may be imprisoned, are deeply alarming,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.  

    Five of the defendants, including historian Maati Monjib, are accused of “threatening the internal security of the state” through “propaganda” that may threaten “the loyalty that citizens owe to the State and institutions of the Moroccan people” under Article 206 of the Penal Code, according to official court papers. They could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty.

    January 26, 2016

    Tomorrow’s trial of seven Moroccan journalists and activists on charges including “undermining state security” and “failing to report foreign funding”, is part of a calculated crackdown on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The seven are due to face trial for taking part in a foreign-funded project to train people to use smartphones for citizen journalism. The court papers show that authorities believe that grassroots journalism may “destabilize Moroccans’ trust in their institutions”.

    “This case clearly demonstrates that Morocco's government is stepping up its attacks on press freedom. Helping Moroccans harness smartphone technology to report on what is going on in the country is not a crime, and it is outrageous that it is being treated as a state security offence. Moroccans have the right to receive and spread information about what is happening in their country,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    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.

    September 15, 2015

    The Moroccan authorities must implement the UN body’s decision, protect Ali Aarrass from further abuse while he remains imprisoned, and ensure he has effective access to justice, Amnesty International said. Ali Aarrass went on hunger strike on 25 August in Salé II Local Prison near Morocco’s capital Rabat two years after the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s (WGAD) called on the Moroccan authorities to release him. He is severely weakened and struggles to stand, his family told Amnesty International.

    Ali Aarrass also entered the hunger strike to protest fresh improper treatment by the head guard in his prison block, significant delays in the investigation carried out by the judicial authorities into his torture allegations, as well as the lack of response by the Court of Cassation nearly three years after he appealed his conviction to Morocco’s supreme judicial authority.

    June 24, 2015

     

     

     

     

     

    Moroccan human rights and political activists Wafae Charaf and Oussama Housne were sentenced to three-year and two-year prison terms respectively in 2014 for “falsely reporting” torture. They were also convicted of slandering Morocco’s police force and ordered to pay compensation, even though neither of them had accused the police. They are prisoners of conscience.

    Wafae Charaf said she was abducted after she went to a workers’ protest in Tangiers on 27 April 2014, by men who beat her for several hours and threatened her with further violence if she did not stop her activism.

    June 11, 2015

    The expulsion of two Amnesty International experts from Morocco is a blatant attempt to prevent legitimate human rights research and muzzle criticism in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Moroccan police held John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia and Irem Arf, Refugee and Migrant Rights Researcher, separately today. Both had their passports confiscated and were questioned at police stations in Rabat and Oujda, respectively, before they were put on separate flights to London and Paris.

    “Morocco’s lofty words about being an open country have been exposed as hollow by their actions today,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research.

    “The decision to expel our staff from Morocco as they began their investigations into the human rights situation of migrants and refugees raises serious suspicions that the authorities have something to hide.”

    May 19, 2015

    Released 10.00 BST (09.00 GMT) 19 May 2015

    Beatings, stress positions, asphyxiation, simulated drowning, psychological and sexual violence are among an array of torture techniques used by Moroccan security forces to extract “confessions” to crimes or silence activists and crush dissent, according to a new Amnesty International report published today.

    The report, Shadow of Impunity: Torture in Morocco and Western Sahara, reveals a darker reality to the liberal image presented by Morocco’s leaders when in 2011 they responded to popular uprisings in the region by promising to pursue a raft of progressive reforms and a new constitution prohibiting torture.

    November 26, 2014

    Restrictions by the Moroccan authorities on human rights organizations including Amnesty International have continued unabated despite the upcoming World Human Rights Forum being organized in Marrakech on 27-30 November.

    In recent months, for the first time since 1993, the Moroccan authorities have sought to impose limitations on Amnesty International’s human rights activities in the country.

    •        In September 2014, Amnesty International’s annual youth camp in Bouznika near the capital Rabat was banned by the authorities, in spite of the organization taking all the required steps to notify the authorities.
    •        In October 2014, the authorities denied entry to Morocco to an Amnesty International delegation seeking to document the situation of migrants and refugees.
    •        In November 2014, a fact-finding visit by the organization was cancelled after the authorities requested prior meetings in Rabat to agree on the parameters of the trip.

    August 14, 2014

    Two activists recently imprisoned after they reported they had been abducted and tortured must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said.

    Human rights and political activist Wafae Charaf was sentenced to a year in prison and a 1000 MAD fine (approximately USD 120) on Tuesday for allegedly falsely reporting being abducted and tortured by unknown persons in April this year.

    The court also ordered her to pay 50,000 MAD (approximately USD 6,000) in compensation to Morocco’s police force for slander, although she did not accuse them.

    “No-one should be imprisoned for reporting torture and slander should not be a criminal offence. This conviction sends a chilling warning to anyone who has suffered torture, or any other ill-treatment, that they should keep quiet or risk ending up behind bars,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

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