The United States Department has avoided accusing Morocco of committing human rights violations in its 2020 report on human rights practices.
The United States Department of State released, Tuesday, its 2020 Human Rights Report. In the case of Morocco, the report featured the conclusions of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Robert Kennedy Center on allegations of human rights violations as well as the responses of public institutions, such as the Prison Administration and National Human Rights Council and the government.
On torture, the report shows that «reports of torture have declined over the last several years, although Moroccan government institutions and NGOs continued to receive reports about the mistreatment of individuals in official custody (…) most frequently in pretrial detention».
«There were also accusations that security officials subjected Western Sahara proindependence protesters to degrading treatment during or following demonstrations or protests calling for the release of alleged political prisoners».
«No political detainees» says the government
«In March the CNDH released a report on 20 allegations by Hirak protesters that they were tortured during detention; the report determined that these allegations, highlighted in a February 19 report by Amnesty International, were unfounded», the same source added. Nevertheless, the CNDH claims to have opened investigations into 28 complaints of torture or degrading treatment between January 1 and August 31.
The Department of State report also mentions sanctions taken against members of the public forces who allegedly assaulted citizens. The document reports that the Marrakech branch of the auxiliary forces suspended two officers after they appeared in a video violently arresting a suspect on May 6.
For its part, the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) imposed administrative sanctions on two officials and transferred two cases involving the other four officials to the Office of the Prosecutor General, which initiated legal proceedings in at least one of the cases.
The report reveals that the government rejects the existence of political detainees in Morocco and prefers to speak of ordinary prisoners, especially in the cases of Souleiman Raissouni, Omar Radi, Taoufik Bouachrine, Maati Monji
For the record, in March 2019, the president of the CNDH, Amina Bouayach had told EFE that «there are no political prisoners in Morocco. There are prisoners who have been arrested for their participation in demonstrations or for the violence produced during these demonstrations». This statement was condemned by the families of these prisoners.
The report also notes, in the part reserved to freedom of expression, that the «law criminalizes criticism of Islam, of the legitimacy of the monarchy, of state institutions, of officials such as those in the military, and of the government’s positions regarding territorial integrity and Western Sahara».
The document, citing HRW, notes that «the government displayed intolerance for individuals critical of the monarch, local authorities and Islam. According to the government, 359 individuals were specifically charged for criminal speech, including defamation, slander, and insult».
The text mentions in particular the case of Hirak detainees lawyer Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui, exiled in France, condemned to 24 months in prison.
Overall, the report remains balanced. These observations have already been noted by national and international NGOs as well as by the Moroccan press. The document differs from John Kerry's October 2013 report that had angered the Benkirane government.