UN: Torture of activists in Morocco ‘systematic’

Sep 22, 2012, 7:37 PM

Associated Press

RABAT, Morocco (AP) – Torture is systematic in Morocco for cases involving anti-government demonstrators and those accused of terrorism, a U.N. expert said Saturday after concluding a fact-finding mission in the North African kingdom.

U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez spent a week visiting prisons and police stations throughout the country.

“It appears that there’s an increase in occurrences of excessive force when the police or other authorities respond to incidents that involves assembly,” he told reporters. “Whether demonstrations are authorized or not, does not give authorities the right to exercise excessive force.”

In addition to visiting detention center, Mendez also met with activists and civil society representatives. He said, however, that these meetings often occurred under the surveillance of authorities, resulting in a “climate of oppression.”

Morocco, a close Western ally, has presented itself as a model for the region in coping with Arab Spring unrest through reform. While tens of thousands protested in 2011 for greater democracy and less corruption, the protests fizzled after a new constitution was presented and early elections were won by an opposition party.

The government has not commented on Mendez’s statement, but earlier described his visit as proof of Morocco’s commitment to human rights.

“It is a precedent reflecting the confidence Morocco has in its capacity to respects its international engagements and deal frankly with questions and problems of human rights,” Communications Minister Mustapha al-Khalfi said on Thursday to the state news agency.

Mendez, who will present his full report to the U.N.’s Council on Human Rights in Geneva in March, also said that a culture of human rights was developing in Morocco.

Activists, however, report that there have been renewed crackdowns by police on those calling for greater reforms a year after the protests.

According to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, between 70 and 80 activists from the pro-democracy February 20 movement are currently in prison.

In a Sept. 17 statement, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said the sentencing of five activists for assaulting police officers took place after what may have been an unfair trial involving torture.

“The court sent protesters to jail on the basis of confessions allegedly obtained under torture, while refusing to summon the complainants to be heard in court,” said Eric Goldstein, the group’s North Africa director. “Morocco can guarantee fair trials only when courts seriously investigate allegations of coerced confessions and dismiss as evidence any confessions the police obtained improperly.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

People search a collapsed building following an earthquake in Azmarin town, Idlib province, norther...
Associated Press

Death toll mounts after powerful earthquake rocks Turkey and Syria

Rescue workers and residents in multiple Turkish and Syrian cities searched for survivors, working through tangles of metal and concrete.
12 hours ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the 27-nation European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India.
2 days ago
(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
4 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
UN: Torture of activists in Morocco ‘systematic’