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US raises concerns over «political prisoners» in Morocco

The US department of state says in its annual country reports on human rights that there are «credible reports of political prisoners or detainees» in Morocco.

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The US Department of State released, Monday, its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights.

The Morocco section of the report stated that «there were no significant changes in the human rights situation in Morocco during the past year». It also reported «no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings».

However, the report raised concerns about torture and other mistreatment. While the Moroccan constitution prohibits these practices, «there were credible reports that government officials employed them», according to the document.

The report cited government institutions and NGOs receiving reports of «mistreatment of individuals in official custody». Additionally, the Public Prosecutor's Office reportedly received complaints alleging torture and excessive violence. While some complaints were being investigated or prosecuted, the report noted the Moroccan government didn't provide information on how many officers faced repercussions for excessive violence.

Prison conditions were another area of concern. Although some improvements occurred in 2023, the report indicated they «did not meet international standards in all cases» due to overcrowding.

The report also highlighted lengthy pretrial detention. Despite legal provisions limiting it, «approximately 42 percent of the total prison population were pretrial detainees», a trend seen over the past decade.

Political detention and freedom of speech

Regarding arbitrary detention, the report acknowledged Moroccan law prohibits such practices and allows individuals to challenge their detention in court. However, it raised concerns about adherence to these provisions, particularly during protests. Local NGOs reported instances of police arresting individuals without warrants.

The report also addressed political prisoners. While the government denied having any, the report acknowledged «credible reports of political prisoners or detainees».

«Transnational repression» was another area of concern. The report cited human rights organizations alleging government harassment and surveillance of activists both domestically and abroad.

Freedom of expression faced restrictions as well. The report stated the government imposed financial penalties on journalists and publishers violating defamation and insult laws.

Furthermore, individuals not registered as journalists could face similar charges, and authorities reportedly subjected some journalists to harassment and intimidation. The report cited government warnings to online journalists to «obey the law», potentially leading to self-censorship.

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