Annual Report: Morocco/Western Sahara 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Morocco/Western Sahara 2013

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Kingdom of Morocco

Head of state King Mohamed VI

Head of government Abdelilah Benkirane

The authorities restricted freedom of expression and prosecuted critics of the monarchy and state institutions as well as Sahrawi advocates of self-determination. The security forces used excessive force against demonstrators. People suspected of terrorism or other security offences were at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and unfair trials. Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers were subject to attacks. Women and girls were discriminated against in law and practice. At least seven people were sentenced to death; there were no executions.

Background

The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a further year in April, again without including any human rights monitoring component.

Morocco's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in May. The government subsequently agreed to criminalize enforced disappearances under the Criminal Code and enact a domestic violence law, but declined UN recommendations calling for a legal moratorium on executions and improved procedures for the registration of civil society organizations.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture visited Morocco and Western Sahara in September.

Freedoms of expression, association and assembly

The authorities continued to clamp down on journalists and others who criticized the monarchy or state institutions. The security forces used excessive force to disperse demonstrations.

  • Abdelsamad Haydour, a student, was fined and sentenced to three years' imprisonment in February for “insulting the King” in an online video.
  • Rap singer Mouad Belghouat had his one-year prison sentence, imposed for insulting the police, confirmed by the Casablanca Court of Appeal in July. He was charged after a video featuring one of his songs was posted on the internet. He was imprisoned in March and remained in prison at the end of the year.
  • Tarek Rouchdi and five other activists in the
  • 20 February Movement, which advocates political reform, were sentenced to prison terms of up to 10 months in September. They were convicted on charges such as insults and violence against public officials. Dozens of activists in the 20 February Movement were reported to be detained at the end of the year.

In August, police used excessive force against people demonstrating outside parliament in Rabat against an annual event marking the King's accession to the throne. A journalist reporting the event was also abused. In November, police used excessive force to prevent a planned demonstration outside parliament called by the 20 February Movement.

Repression of dissent – Sahrawi activists

The authorities continued to target Sahrawi human rights defenders and advocates of self-determination for Western Sahara, and used excessive force to quell or prevent demonstrations in Western Sahara. They also continued to block the legal registration of Sahrawi civil society organizations.