Saturday, November 18

Morocco Denounces Amnesty Torture Report

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Al Akhbar

Prisoners

Morocco has rejected accusations by Amnesty International regarding torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Moroccan prisons.

In a Wednesday statement, the inter-ministerial delegation for human rights said that Amnesty’s report “does not reflect the status of human rights” in Morocco.

It said that the report was based on “mere allegations” and “one-sided sources.”

In its annual report on Wednesday, the rights group accused the Moroccan authorities of torturing and mistreating detainees.

In October, rights activists accused Moroccan authorities of keeping more than 100 prisoners awaiting execution in “inhumane and unacceptable conditions,” despite a 20-year moratorium on the death penalty.

Citing a recent study, Abderrahim Jamai, coordinator of the Moroccan Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CMCPM), said at the time that dozens of inmates were being kept in “corridors of death” nationwide.

In June, Driss el Yazami, the president of the National Council for Human Rights, called for an end to the death penalty.

Although this provided campaigners with some hope that the kingdom was moving towards abolishing capital punishment, Morocco’s Islamist-led parliament rejected the measure.

Opponents of the death penalty point to Morocco’s new constitution, adopted in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, which guarantees the “right to life” without explicitly proscribing capital punishment.

Moreover, Wednesday’s report said that Moroccan authorities were restricting freedom of expression and hindering the establishment of NGOs in 2014.

The report also cited legal proceedings against a number of journalists and activists charged with “insulting” the king or state institutions or “promoting terrorism,” along with restrictions on human rights groups operating in the country.

In November, two of Morocco’s main advocacy groups boycotted a global human rights forum after accusing the government of having interfered with their work.

The independent Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) announced the boycott a day after organizing a protest in front of parliament against what it called a “systemic ban” on its activities.

In July, Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad accused local groups he did not name of undermining the country’s fight against terrorism through their criticism of its rights record.

Also in November, Human Rights Watch charged that Morocco had blocked more than 15 meetings of the AMDH since around the time Hassad made his allegations.

However, government spokesman Mustafa Khalfi denied any “offensive against human rights groups,” pointing out that NGOs had organized more than 4,000 events in Morocco in 2014.

Besides cracking down on NGOs and activists, Morocco often jails citizens accused of having homosexual sex.

The Moroccan government is led by a moderate Islamist party. Gay sex is illegal, punishable by a maximum three years in prison in the North African country.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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