Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Morocco
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Morocco, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cf32c.html [accessed 28 January 2015]|
Continued harassment of members of Sahrawi organisations23
Arbitrary arrests and harassment of several Sahrawi human rights defenders24
On March 19, 2006, at four o'clock in the morning, members of the Urban Security Groups (Groupes urbains de sécurité – GUS) raided the home of Mr. Hammud Iguilid, head of the Laayoun branch of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (Association marocaine de droits de l'Homme – AMDH), and took him for questioning to one of their centres. A report denouncing human rights violations in Western Sahara, due to be published by Mr. Iguilid, was confiscated, and the latter was ill-treated during his arrest.
On March 23, 2006, Mr. Larbi El-Moussamih, a member of the Sahara branch of the Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice (Forum marocain vérité et justice – FMVJ), an organisation still denied legal recognition, was arrested in Laayoun. He was detained and questioned for four hours by GUS members. No reason was given for his arrest.
On March 24, 2006, Ms. Djimi El-Ghalia, vice-president of the Saharawi Association of Victims of Gross Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State in Western Sahara (Association sahraouie des victimes des violations graves des droits de l'Homme commises par l'Etat du Maroc au Sahara occidental – ASVDH) and a member of the Committee of the Families of Disappeared or Former Disappeared (Comité des proches de disparus et anciens disparus), was arrested by the police along with her husband, Mr. Dah Mustafa Dafa. They were taken to the criminal investigation police department in Laayoun. At the time of their arrest, Ms. Djimi El-Ghalia and Mr. Dah Mustafa Dafa were visiting the mother of a Saharawi human rights activist, Mr. Hmad Hammad, in Laayoun.
They were both released without charge a few hours later.
Royal pardon in favour of several FMVJ and AMDH members
On March 25, 2006, Mr. Mohamed El Moutaouakil, a member of the FMVJ national council, Mr. Brahim Noumria, a member of the AMDH branch in Laayoun, Mr. Larbi Messaoud, a member of the FMVJ Sahara branch, and Mr. Lidri Lahoussine, a founding member of AMDH and of the FMVJ Sahara branch, were released after being granted royal pardon.
They had all been arrested on July 20, 2005 during a new wave of arrests of Saharawi human rights defenders and sentenced on December 13, 2005 by the Laayoun Court of Appeal to ten months' imprisonment on charges of "participation in and incitement to violent protest".
Release of Mr. Brahim Dahane
On April 22, 2006, Mr. Brahim Dahane, a former disappeared and ASVDH director, was granted royal pardon and subsequently released, following a request by the Royal Consultative Council for Saharawi Affairs (Conseil consultatif royal sur les questions sahraouies), recently established by the King. The trial of Mr. Brahim Dahane, which was due to resume on April 25, 2006, was therefore cancelled.
Mr. Brahim Dahane had been arrested on the night of October 30 to 31, 2005 by GUS members while taking part in an unprompted gathering in front of the family house of Mr. Hamdi Lembarki, who had been beaten to death by GUS members that night. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dahane was providing information relating to the death of Mr. Lembarki to the Spanish news agency EFE over the phone.
On November 1, 2005, Mr. Dahane appeared before the General Prosecutor of the Laayoun Criminal Court, who ordered his transfer to the Black Prison. He was charged with "formation of a criminal group" and "membership to an unauthorised organisation".
Arbitrary detention of and legal proceedings against Mr. Brahim Sabbar and Mr. Ahmed Sbai25
On June 17, 2006, Mr. Brahim Sabbar, a former disappeared and ASVDH secretary general, Mr. Ahmed Sbai, a member of the ASVDH coordination council and of the Committee for the Protection of Black Prison Detainees, and two other ASVDH supporters were forcibly dragged out of their vehicle, beaten and insulted by several GUS officers, at a roadblock at the entrance of Laayoun. They were returning from the town of Boujdour, where they had attended the opening of an ASVDH branch, an organisation to which Moroccan authorities still deny formal registration.
Messrs. Sabbar and Sbai were initially taken to the Hay Ahmatar police station, where they were held overnight and questioned by criminal investigation police before being transferred to the Laayoun Black Prison. On June 19, 2006, they were both indicted for "criminal conspiracy" (Articles 293 and 294 of the Criminal Code), "incitement to violence" (Article 304), "destruction of public property and obstruction of public thoroughfare" (Articles 587 and 591), "trespass to a State agent" (Article 267), "participation in armed groups" and "membership to an unauthorised association".
Mr. Brahim Sabbar was convicted and sentenced on June 27, 2006 by the Laayoun Court of First Instance to a two-year prison term for allegedly "assaulting a police officer" during his arrest on June 17, 2006. His lawyers appealed against this decision, but no hearing had been scheduled as of the end of 2006.
On November 13, 2006, Messrs. Sabbar and Sbai appeared before the examining magistrate, who informed them that the investigation into the charges brought against them on June 19, 2006 was underway. By the end of 2006, they remained in detention at the Laayoun Black Prison.
Mr. Sabbar had previously been arrested on June 4, 2006 and detained in custody for several hours before being released without charge. The same day, the weekly newspaper Albidaoui had published an interview with Mr. Sabbar who called for the prosecution of those responsible for the acts of violence committed by the Moroccan State in Western Sahara, and urged the authorities to hold a referendum on the self-determination of the region.
A hearing was initially scheduled for January 9, 2007, but postponed until January 23, 2007 as the two defendants refused to appear before the Court in the absence of guarantees for their safety during their transfer.
Continued harassment of the FMVJ Sahara branch and its members
Continued harassment of Mr. Lahoussine Moutik
As of the end of 2006, Mr. Lahoussine Moutik, chairman of the FMVJ Sahara branch, had still not received all of his severance pay and was still being denied a work certificate, in spite of several rulings in his favour by the Laayoun Courts of First Instance and Appeal. Mr. Moutik, who used to manage the Accountancy & IT department of a large company, was dismissed in February 2002 after he appeared before the ad hoc Commission for Western Sahara of the European Commission.
In addition, Mr. Moutik remained at constant risk of administrative sanctions, as the financial consultancy firm he created in 2002 had not yet been registered. In January 2003, the Laayoun Court of First Instance refused, on no apparent grounds, to issue a registration certificate to the trade registrar. The Agadir Administrative Court subsequently held that the case did not fall under its jurisdiction.
Denial of legal recognition
By the end of 2006, a decision delivered by the Laayoun Court of First Instance in June 2003 against the Sahara branch of FMVJ for "carrying out illegal and separatist activities in breach with its own statutes" had still not been legally transmitted to the office of the court registrar, although this procedure is required by law in order to appeal against a decision. The Court also banned all meetings of the section members and ordered the closure of its premises as well as the liquidation of its assets, which were to be transferred to the FMVJ executive office. As the Sahara branch had not been able to appeal this decision pending its transmission to the registrar, its headquarters and the equipment and documents within remained under seal.
In February 2006, the organisation took new steps to create a branch renamed FMVJ-Sahara, in Laayoun. By the end of 2006, however, the organisation's members had not received the receipt of the request, which is normally acknowledged within ten days under Moroccan law.
Continued harassment of ANDCM26
Legal proceedings against ten members of the National Association of Unemployed Graduates (Association nationale des diplômés chômeurs – ANDCM), an NGO still not legally recognised by the authorities, remained pending as of the end of 2006.
These ten members, including ANDCM president Mr. Thami El Khyat, had been arrested in October 2004 in Ksar El Kabir during a nationwide protest organised by the association. They appeared before the Tangier Court of Appeal on January 4, 2006.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
24. See Urgent Appeal MAR 001/0306/OBS 037.
25. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeals MAR 002/0606/OBS 079 and 079.1.
26. See Annual Report 2005.