Morocco: Deterioration of the prison conditions of the political prisoners of the Hirak

Economic & Social Rights, Morocco / Western Sahara, Statement

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Tuesday 3/10/2017 – For the past two weeks, many political prisoners of the protest movement of the Rif (Hirak) have been conducting a hunger strike to denounce the arbitrary nature of their trial and their prison conditions. EuroMed Rights calls on the Moroccan authorities to free all individuals detained following the events that occurred in the Rif or to try them and guarantee them a fair trial within a reasonable time.

Once more EuroMed Rights regrets [i] the security response given by the Moroccan authorities to a movement that has its roots in the deterioration of the economic and social situation in the region of Al Hoceïma. Over 300 individuals are said to still be imprisoned for their participation in the Hirak in May, in worsening prison conditions. Nabil Ahmjik, Rabie Al Ablak and Jaloul Mohammed, three leaders of the Hirak, have denounced the abuses suffered over the past weeks, such as being unable to communicate with their families and the deterioration of their personal affairs. Morocco ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and is therefore bound to observe the prisoners’ rights and to ensure their health and their physical and psychological integrity.

The right to a fair trial must be guaranteed to all detainees, including Nasser Zefzefi, leader of the Hirak movement imprisoned since late May and whose trial date will only be disclosed on 4 October. In addition, EuroMed Rights is concerned about the heavier sentence given to journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui, director and editor of the website Badil.info, who was sentenced to one year’s unconditional imprisonment by the Court of Appeal of Al Hoceïma.

Finally, EuroMed Rights calls on the Moroccan authorities to conduct an impartial and independent investigation in order to shed light on the events that occurred in Al Hoceïma and to break with the purely security-based and repressive treatment; such a treatment is not conducive to establishing a responsible and transparent dialogue which is crucial for resolving the crisis.

 

Update Tuesday 10/10/2017

EuroMed Droits deplores the prosecution and pressure against Hirak detainees’ lawyers. Our organisation is particularly concerned with the case of the lawyer Abdessadeq El Bouchtaoui, accused of humiliation and defamation against Moroccan authorities. Abdessadeq El Bouchtaoui is currently being prosecuted by the Al Hoceima Court of First Instance, where he faces up to five years of imprisonment. His hearing is scheduled on October 26. EuroMed Rights recalls that the independence of lawyers is protected by international law.

 

Background

Since 28 October 2016, the date on which fish merchant Mouhcine Fikri was crushed and killed by a dumpster while trying to save his confiscated goods, many demonstrations have taken place in the city of Al-Hoceima and in the Rif region. The demonstrators demanded observance of their economic and social rights and denounced corruption and the administration’s abuse. The demonstrations have dried up over the past few weeks, but not the arrests. The local associations have recorded between three and ten new arrests every day.

 

[i] See our latest Press releases from 7 August 2017 and 16 June 2017 (FR only)

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