NGOs slam Morocco over rights

Apr 09, 2008

GENEVA – Morocco is failing to undertake democratic reforms, lobby groups said today, accusing Rabat of “hypocrisy” on human rights.

Speaking in Geneva during a United Nations Human Rights’ Council (UNHCR) assessment of the north African country’s rights record, non-governmental organisations hailed reforms in the fields of family law, the media, criminal procedures and nationality rights.

“But we have worries about the implementation of this arsenal of laws,” said Youssef El Bouhairi from the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH). “Until now, the state has not demonstrated a political will to implement these reforms,” he added.

He added that it was “hypocritical” of the parliament to vote in favour of reform of the criminal code to protect the rights of detainees, while giving wide-ranging powers to the security forces as part of anti-terrorism measures.

The AMDH, along with other human rights groups, said torture is still practiced in Morocco, even though the country says its conforms to international legal standards. “Police officers and security officials are still resorting to violence,” said El Bouhairi.

A former political prisoner complained that his torturers were going unpunished. “I know my torturers,” said El Hassan Aharrath. “I have published their names, but they were not given up to the justice system.”

Saida Drissi Amrani, the president of the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women, said she welcomed the reform of the family code, but thought “these achievements are still fragile.”

Polygamy continues to be turned a blind eye to, she said, and homosexuality and changing religion are still penalised.

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