Morocco/Western Sahara


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Morocco and W. Sahara Human Rights

Violence and unrest continue to spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Inspired by the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, people across Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Iran, Morocco, and Libya have also taken to the streets to demand political, economic and social reforms.

Repression of Dissent

The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be restricted. Criticism of the monarchy or views contradicting the official position on other politically sensitive issues, especially the question of Western Sahara, were penalized.

Sahrawi (Western Saharan) human rights activists continued to face harassment, including politically motivated charges, restrictions on movement and administrative obstruction to prevent their organizations? legal registration.

Hundreds of Sahrawis suspected of demonstrating against Moroccan rule or distributing pro-Polisario Front materials were arrested. Some were released after questioning; others were tried on charges of violent conduct in proceedings that were reported not to have complied with international standards of fair trial. Many complained that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated by security forces during questioning and that information allegedly obtained under torture was used as evidence in convictions.

Hundreds of members of the unauthorized Islamist political organization Al-Adl wal-Ihsan were questioned by police and at least 188 were charged with participating in unauthorized meetings or belonging to an unauthorized organization. The trial of the group's spokesperson, Nadia Yassine, charged in 2005 with defaming the monarchy, was postponed.

Little independent information was available about conditions in the refugee camps run by the Polisario Front in Algeria. No steps were known to have been taken to address the impunity of those accused of committing human rights abuses in the camps in the 1970s and 1980s.

Excessive Use of Force

Security forces used excessive force to disperse antigovernment demonstrations, highlighting the failure of the authorities to implement a key recommendation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER). Established in 2004 to look into grave human rights violations committed between 1956 and 1999, the IER called in 2006 for improved regulation of the state's security organs.

Discrimination: Violence Against Women and Homosexuals

In January 2008, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called for the legal criminalization of violence against women and active measures to combat it. In November the Ministry of Social Development, Family and Solidarity announced that such a law was being developed. In December, in a further welcome move, King Mohamed VI announced that Morocco would withdraw reservations it made when ratifying the Convention.

In January an appeal court upheld prison terms of up to 10 months against six men convicted of ?homosexual conduct? in Ksar El-Kebir, north-western Morocco. Same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults are criminalized under Moroccan law.

US Policy

Morocco has had longstanding close relations with the United States. In 2004, Morocco became a major non-NATO ally of the United States. They also entered into a bilateral free trade agreement. Morocco is believed to cooperate with the US government's extraordinary rendition program and possibly tortured some of these prisoners, such as the case of Benyahim Mohammed.

Morocco/Western Sahara News



June 28, 2016 • Press Release

Journalists risk imprisonment for running smartphone app training in Morocco

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.

March 10, 2016 • Press Release

Ai Weiwei, Snowden, Pussy Riot take place of online ads to protest censorship

Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

January 26, 2016 • Press Release

Morocco ramps up crackdown on press freedom with trial over citizen journalism

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.

May 19, 2015 • Press Release

Morocco: Endemic torture used to incriminate suspects, gag dissent

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.

May 18, 2015 • Report

Shadow of Impunity: Torture in Morocco and Western Sahara

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.

March 26, 2015 • Press Release

Spain: Two-pronged assault targets rights and freedoms of Spanish citizens, migrants and refugees

Draconian reforms to two pieces of Spanish legislation are an assault on the rights of its citizens as well as an attempt to formalize abusive practices against migrants and refugees, said Amnesty International ahead of a vote in parliament this afternoon.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.