Annual Report: Morocco/Western Sahara 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Morocco/Western Sahara 2011

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  • Mohamed Sleimani, Abdalla Balla, Bouali M'naouar, Hicham el-Hawari, Izaddine Sleimani, Hicham Sabbah and Tarek Mahla, all members of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan, were reported to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated by National Brigade of the Judicial Police officers over three days following their arrest on 28 June. At least five of the seven alleged that they had been raped. No investigation was known to have been conducted by the authorities. The seven were held incommunicado for longer than the maximum allowed by law, during which they said they were forced to sign incriminating statements under torture. They were charged with kidnapping and assaulting a former member of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan. On 21 December, all of the defendants were acquitted and released. The former member of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan appealed against the acquittals.
  • Fodail Aberkane was reported to have died on 18 September as a result of internal bleeding caused when he was beaten by a group of seven or eight police officers at Salé police station. His family lodged a complaint. An investigation led to the arrest of several policemen believed to be responsible.

Counter-terror and security

The authorities announced that they had dismantled several "terrorist networks" and arrested dozens of people. Detainees were held incommunicado, often in excess of the maximum 12 days permitted by law, at an unrecognized detention centre, believed to be at Témara, where they faced torture and other ill-treatment.

  • Youssef al-Taba'i was reported to have been held in extremely cold conditions, beaten, deprived of sleep and food, and had freezing water poured over him when he was held for more than three weeks at the Témara detention centre following his arrest on 28 March in Casablanca. He was charged with terrorism-related offences.

Defendants charged with terrorism-related offences faced unfair trials. Some were convicted on the basis of confessions that they alleged were extracted under duress; the courts did not conduct adequate investigations into their complaints.

Detainees awaiting trial on terrorism-related charges staged hunger strikes to protest against their alleged torture and conditions of imprisonment. Hunger strikes were also staged by prisoners serving sentences, including Islamists convicted in connection with bomb attacks in 2003 in Casablanca. The government failed to take adequate steps to ensure that all detainees, particularly those held on security-related grounds, were protected against torture or other ill-treatment, and to investigate allegations of such abuses.

Migrants' rights

In August and September, the authorities cracked down on foreign migrants who they said had entered or were living in Morocco without proper authorization. They arrested 600 to 700 people, including children, in Oujda, Rabat, Tangier and other cities. During some raids, security forces used bulldozers to destroy migrants' dwellings and were reported to have beaten people. Those arrested were transported to the desert area near the Algerian border and left there without adequate food and water and without recourse to appeal.

Freedom of religion

The authorities summarily expelled 130 foreign Christians, including teachers and aid workers, during 2010, apparently because they were suspected of proselytizing although none was charged with this. Proselytizing is a criminal offence under Article 220 of the Penal Code.

Death penalty

At least four people were sentenced to death; the government maintained the de facto moratorium on executions in place since 1993.

In December, Morocco abstained on a 2010 UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

Polisario camps

Polisario Front officials detained Mostafa Salma Sidi Mouloud, a former Polisario Front police officer, on 21 September after he publicly expressed support for the autonomy of Western Sahara under Moroccan administration. He was detained at the border post leading to the Polisario Front-controlled Tindouf camps in the Mhiriz region. After international criticism, the Polisario Front said on 6 October that he had been released. However, he remained held and denied contact with his family until 1 December, when he was transferred to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in Mauritania.