Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Morocco

Ongoing repression of peaceful assemblies28

Several Moroccan human rights defenders were subjected to retaliation in 2005, following their participation in sit-ins and demonstrations denouncing the human rights situation in the country.

Continued harassment of AMDH members

During a demonstration organised by the Moroccan Labour Union (Union Marocaine du Travail – UMT) on 1 May 2005, Mr. Aziz El-Ghazi, former head of the Taounate section of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (Association marocaine des droits humains – AMDH), was called in for questioning by the King's Prosecutor in Fès. Mr. El Ghazi was interrogated about the speech he gave at the celebration opening, and was released without being charged.

On 15 May 2005, Messrs. Fayçal Ouchen and Youness Saadi, both members of the AMDH section in Rabat, were assaulted by the police while participating in a sit-in in front of the Parliament in Rabat.

Moreover, Messrs. Moaâtassim El-Ghalbzouri, Salim Ghallit and Mohamed Aberkan, leaders of the Tamassint Association for Local Development (Association Tamassint pour le développement local), were arrested on 11 May 2005, after they announced the organisation of a peaceful demonstration calling on the authorities to pay the compensations they had promised to the victims of the earthquake that devastated the Tamassint region in 2004.

The demonstration took place on 19 May 2005 and was repressed by the police forces that violently beat nine persons, including Messrs. Omar Lmalem and Said Aachir, members of the AMDH section in El-Hoceima. Messrs. Lmalem and Aachir were arrested along with twelve other demonstrators and briefly detained. However, Messrs. El Ghalbzouri, Ghallit and Aberkan, appeared before the El-Hoceima Court of First Instance on 26 May 2005 and were sentenced to six and eight months' imprisonment for "insulting State authorities" and "incitement to rioting". On 6 October 2006, the El-Hoceima Court of Appeal upheld this verdict. Messrs El Ghalbzouri, Ghallit and Aberkan were granted pardon on 24 November 2005 and subsequently released.

Another sit-in was organised in front of the UMT headquarters in Taza on 12 June 2005 as a solidarity movement with the population of Tamassint. On that occasion, police forces arrested Messrs. Mohamed El-Aji and Ahmed Rouassi, both members of the AMDH section in Taza. On 15 June 2005, they appeared before the court and were charged with "organising an unauthorised demonstration" and "insulting the King". On 6 July 2005, Mr. El-Aji was condemned to one year imprisonment and a 5,000 dirhams (456 euros) fine, while Mr. Rouassi was discharged. By the end of 2005, Mr. El-Aji remained detained in Taza civil prison.

On 12 June 2005, Mr. Amal Lhoussaine, a member of the AMDH section in Taroudant and president of the town cultural association, was summoned by the police and brought before the court that same day. Mr. Lhoussaine was accused of "unlawful gathering on public thoroughfare" after participating in a support sit-in for the Tamassint region. He was released on remand on 30 June 2005, and condemned, after the hearing was postponed on several occasions, to a 1,200 dirhams (110 euros) fine by the Taroudant Court on 17 October 2005.

Continued harassment of ANDCM members

Members of the Morocco National Association of the Unemployed Graduates (Association nationale des diplômés chômeurs du Maroc – ANDCM), which has not been legally recognised by the authorities yet, continued to be harassed in 2005.

Ten ANDCM activists, including Mr. Thami El-Khyat, the association president, had been arrested in Ksar El-Kebir in October 2004, during a nation-wide protest movement organised by ANDCM. On 4 January 2006, they appeared again before the Tanger Court of Appeal but the judicial proceedings remained pending.

On 24 July 2005, Mr. Thami El-Khyat and Mr. Mohammed Hadi, a member of the ANDCM executive committee, were arrested in Agadir right before holding a national coordination session for all ANDCM sections. Messrs. El-Khyat and Hadi were taken to the Agadir central police station and held for several hours before being released without charges.

Moreover, six ANDCM activists were arrested in October 2005 while participating in a regional coordination meeting between ANDCM sections in Souk Sebt-Beni Mellal and Ouled Ayad. They were condemned to a six-month imprisonment sentence. On 9 December 2005, several sit-ins organised by the Rabat ANDCM section in front of the Rabat-Salé prefectorial offices, were brutally dispersed, leaving several participants injured.

Similarly, security forces systematically dispersed the sit-ins organised by the Association of Unemployed Senior Executives (Union des cadres supérieurs au chômage). Mr. Mâati Cherkaoui, a member of the Association, was arrested on 30 June 2005 at the UMT headquarters in Rabat. Mr. Cherkaoui, who faced charges of "violence against a State agent in the exercise of his duties", "intimidation with a knife" and "throwing stones", was finally discharged on 6 December 2005.

Arbitrary detention, judicial proceedings and ill-treatment against members of Saharawi organisations29

Arbitrary detention of FMVJ and AMDH members

– On 27 May 2005, Messrs. Iguilid Hamoudi and Laatik Mouradi, respectively president and member of the AMDH section in Laayoun, were arrested and taken to the office of the court's police department where they were accused of "treason" and subjected to ill-treatment. While in custody, police reportedly strongly insulted AMDH.

Messrs. Hamoudi and Mouradi were released on 28 May 2005. On the next day, however, they were separately summoned by the police, who vainly attempted to force Mr. Hamoudi to sign a completely made-up police report, and Mr. Mouradi to sign the sign out register.

– In June 2005, Mr. Lidri Lahoussine, an AMDH founding member and member of the Moroccan Truth and Justice Forum (Forum marocain Vérité et Justice – FMVJ), was violently beaten by the Moroccan security forces during a demonstration denouncing the deterioration of the human rights situation in Western Sahara. Mr. Lahoussine notably sustained severe head injuries.

Moreover, Messrs. Mohamed El-Moutaouakil and Mohamed Fadel Gaoudi, members of the FMVJ national council, were arrested by six security agents at Mr. El-Moutaouakil's home in Casablanca on 20 July 2005. They were transferred to Laayoun on the next day, while sixteen security officers led an unwarranted search at Mr. El-Moutaouakil's home. Later that day, Mr. Brahim Noumria, a member of the AMDH section in Laayoun, Mr. Larbi Messaoud, a member of the FMVJ Sahara section, and Mr. Lidri Lahoussine were arrested in Laayyoun.

Mr. Gaoudi was released on 23 July 2005 on the order of the examining magistrate of the Laayoun Court of Appeal, whereas Messrs. El-Moutaouakil, Noumria, Messaoud and Lahoussine were transferred to the Laayoun Black Prison. Along with other Saharawi human rights defenders arrested during the same wave of arrests, they were accused of "inciting and participating in the creation of a criminal group aimed at committing crimes", "placing explosive engines on public thoroughfare", "obstruction of public thoroughfare" (Articles 293, 294, 585, 591, 267, 304 and 129 of the Criminal Code), "incitement to violence against State agents" and "incitement to disobedience" (Articles 8, 19 and 20 of the 1958 Dahir Code of Public Liberties).

While detained at the central station of the Flying Intervention Squad (Compagnie mobile d'intervention – PC-CMI), Messrs. Noumria and Lahoussine were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and torture, which the Public Prosecution denied.

On 1 August 2005, Messrs. El-Moutaouakil, Noumria, Messaoud and Lahoussine were secretly transferred to Oukacha prison near Casablanca and went on a hunger strike on 9 August 2005 to protest against the violations of their rights. They refused to undergo any medical check-up and rejected all contacts with their families until they stopped their strike on 27 September 2005.

The first hearing of their case, scheduled for 30 November 2005, was postponed until 6, then 13 December 2005. On that day, the Laayoun Court of Appeal sentenced Messrs. El-Moutaouakil, Noumria, Messaoud and Lahoussine to ten months in prison for "participating in and inciting violent protest activities".

– During the night of 30 to 31 October 2005, members of the Urban Security Group (Groupe urbain de sécurité – GUS) and other Moroccan security forces forcibly dispersed a mass demonstration promoting the Saharawi cause, in Laayoun. Mr. Hamdi Lambarki, one of the demonstrators, was notably beaten to death.

Over 70 persons were further arrested, including Mr. Lakhal Mohamed Salem, a member of the Saharawi Association for Victims of the Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State in Western Sahara.

Around 3.00 am, Messrs. Iguilid Hamoudi, Mohamed Fadel Gaoudi and Brahim Sabbar, general secretary of the aforementioned Association, arrived at the Laayoun central police station to inquire about Mr. Mohamed Salem's situation. They were then fiercely beaten by GUS agents outside the station. Mrs. Yaya Manni, a member of the Association for Victims of the Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State and spouse of Mr. Fadel Gaoudi, and his sisters, Mrs. Mariam Aicha and Soukaina, were also beaten as they attempted to give them assistance.

Mr. Lakhal Mohamed Salem was released without charges on 31 October 2005.

A few hours later on 31 October 2005, Mr. Brahim Dahane, a former victim of disappearance and president of the Saharawi Association for Victims of the Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State in Western Sahara, was arrested during a spontaneous assembly organised in front of young Mr. Hamdi Lambarki's family house by GUS officers. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dahane was on the phone, conveying information about Mr. Lambarki's death to the Spanish news agency EFE.

Mr. Dahane appeared before the general Prosecutor of the Laayoun Criminal Court who ordered his transfer to the Black Prison on 1 November 2005. Mr. Dahane was accused of "forming a criminal group" and "belonging to an unauthorised association". As of the end of 2005, he was still detained awaiting trial.

Obstacles to freedom of movement and refusal to return passports30

On 27 March 2003, Mr. Brahim Dahane and 12 other Saharawi human rights activists and members of families of disappeared had been prevented from leaving Moroccan territory while on their way to Switzerland to participate in meetings on forced disappearances in Western Sahara. Police forces had then seized their passports. By the end of 2005, the delegation members residing in Laayoun like Mr. Dahane had still not been returned their passports, in spite of numerous requests.

Ongoing harassment of the FMVJ Sahara section and its members31

Ongoing harassment of Mr. Lahoussine Moutik

In February 2002, Mr. Lahoussine Moutik, president of the FMVJ Sahara section, had been dismissed from his job as a director of the accounts and IT department of a large company, following an interview with the ad hoc commission on Western Sahara of the European Commission earlier that month. Although the Laayoun Courts of First Instance and Appeal had ruled in his favour, Mr. Moutik had still not received all of his severance pay and had still been denied a work certificate by the end of 2005.

Moreover, Mr. Moutik remained at constant risk of administrative sanctions, as the financial consultancy firm he created in 2002 had not been registered yet. Indeed, the Laayoun Court of First Instance had refused, with no apparent reason, to issue a registration certificate with the trade register.

By the end of 2005, Mr. Moutik's appeal to the Rabat Supreme Court of Appeal was pending.

Lack of legal recognition of the FMVJ Sahara section

On 18 June 2003, the Laayoun Court of First Instance had decided to disband the FMVJ Sahara section for "carrying out illegal and separatist activities in breach with its own statutes". The verdict had also included a ban on all meetings of members of the section, the closing of its premises and the liquidation of the section's assets that were to be transferred to the FMVJ executive office.

By the end of 2005, the verdict had still not been legally transmitted to the office of the court registrar, although this procedure is mandatory by law for appealing against a decision. Therefore, the Sahara section of FMJV had not yet been able to appeal against the verdict, and its head office, including equipment and documents, were still sealed off.

[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.]

28. Idem.

29. See Annual Report 2004 and Urgent Appeal MAR 001/1105/OBS 105.

30. See Annual Report 2004.

31. Idem.


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