Amnesty International warns over widespread torture in Morocco
May 19, Rabat: Amnesty International issued a report on Tuesday documenting widespread torture by the Moroccan state, contrary to its public commitment to reform.
Despite the reforms banning torture and statements against it by King Mohammed VI, the practice continues including abusing protesters, raping detainees with objects and beating confessions out of suspects, the report said.
Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther to journalists said, “For real and tangible reform, we need more than just words, because there is a huge gap between theory and practice in the framework of the law.”
Morocco is a popular vacation destination for Europeans and a close U.S. ally and presents itself as moderate and stable country that respects human rights.
The report recommended that lawyers be present during interrogations, allegations of torture be investigated and those reporting abuses be protected — all measures present in the penal code but rarely implemented.
The report detailed 173 cases of abuse and torture taking place since 2010.
The report said that those accusing the police of torture are now being prosecuted for slander and defamation in a bid to discourage them from speaking out.
Since 2014, eight people have been charged for allegedly giving false allegations of torture, including activist Ouafa Charaf, who was sentenced to a year in prison in August for accusing the police of torture, the report revealed. Her sentence was doubled in October when she appealed.
The report acknowledges that there have been improvements over the past 20 years.
Amnesty director Mohammed Sektaoui said that the group reported on Morocco not because it has the worst human rights in the region but because the organization felt it would have the most impact in the North African kingdom.
“Positive development in Morocco would have an influence on neighboring countries in North Africa and the Middle East,” he said. “Morocco has a big opportunity to be a leader in the region in the fight against torture.”
The Moroccan government response, which was included in the report, rejected the findings, calling into question the credibility of Amnesty’s sources.
The Oslo Times