The Moroccan Association for Human Rights
Open letter to Sirs:
Minister of Human Rights – Ministry of Human Rights – Rabat
Minister of Justice – Ministry of Justice – Rabat
Interior Minister – Interior Ministry– Rabat
Director of Public Prosecution – Presidency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office– Rabat
President of the National Human Rights Council – National Human Rights Council – Rabat
General Delegate for Prison Administration –General Delegation for Prison Administration
Subject: Request for an urgent investigation concerning the abuses that political detainees and activists of social movements have suffered from.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights is following, with great concern, the declarations made by several political detainees in Casablanca’s Lower Criminal Chamber Court, particularly the declarations of Nasser Al-Zafzafi, regarding the circumstances of their detention which was accompanied by frisking, damaging their necessities and storming through their cells. Moreover, their families, mothers, wives and children, were intimidated. They also declared that they were aggressed and abused during the arrest and the interrogation, going so far as to abuse the sensitive areas of their bodies, and subjected to beatings and insults as well as verbal abuse against them and their families. According to them, they were even threatened to rape their relatives in order to extract confessions from them.
Those practices – that characterized “the Years of Lead » in Morocco – are supposed to have ended, but unfortunately they are still used. The fact-finding committees led by the human rights organizations examined many testimonies, declaring that the detainees of the social movements in Al Hoceima and Jerada suffered from beatings, intimidation and abuse. Furthermore, the lawyer of the Ikhorba detainees in Beni Mellal already declared that they were subjected to electric shocks, which is a grave violation of the Convention against Torture ratified by the Moroccan state.
We can read in the 1st article of the above Convention:
“1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term « torture » means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
Moreover, the detainees, currently in the prison Okacha in Casablanca, complained about harassment, physical abuse and deprivation of their rights as stipulated in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and in the Prisons Act 23/98, including the continued detention of political prisoner Nasser Al-Zafzafi in solitary confinement as well as what the families of detainees are suffering during their visits to their relatives. Women are particularly subjected to humiliating body searches and degrading treatments.
Worried about these repeated declarations which emphasize and reaffirm the violation of the right to physical safety and personal security of these citizens and their families in clear violation of international conventions ratified by Morocco, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Head Office of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, calls upon you to intervene urgently to:
o Open an urgent investigation into these violations, as declared by the detainees before the Court, which are criminalized by International Human Rights Law as well as Moroccan Penal Code;
o Produce all the legal effects resulting from these violations in order to guarantee the supremacy of law and to reinforce the principles against impunity. The results of the investigation should be made public;
o Put an end to all illegal practices during the arrests, interrogations and investigations, and guarantee defendants the right to a fair trial;
o Ensure that detainees and their families are treated with humanity and dignity. Ensure that their grievances, namely humiliation and abuse, are positively dealt with.
Looking forward to you acting urgently,
For the Head office of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights
President: Ahmed El-Haij