Human rights situation in Morocco marked by a «crackdown against activists», Amnesty says

On Tuesday, Amnesty International said that Morocco «harassed journalists, bloggers, artists and activists for expressing their views peacefully» in 2019. The NGO’s statement is part of an annual report on the human rights situation in the MENA region.

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London-based NGO Amnesty International revealed that authorities across the MENA region heavily restricted freedom of speech in 2019.

In its annual report on the region, «Renewed wave of mass uprisings met with brutality and repression during ‘year of defiance’», the inetrnational NGO stated that «individuals were detained as prisoners of conscience in 12 countries in the region and 136 people were arrested solely for their peaceful expression online».

According to the report, unveiled Tuesday, Morocco was one of the countries where some of these practices took place in 2019. «In Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, journalists, bloggers and activists who posted statements or videos deemed critical of the head of state or other authorities on social media found themselves targeted for arrest, questioning and prosecution», Amnesty wrote.

For its freedom of speech section, the NGO indicated that in Morocco authorities «harassed journalists, bloggers, artists and activists for expressing their views peacefully». It revealed that, the Kingdom sentenced at least five of them to «prison terms for ‘insulting’ public officials» and allegedly targeted others «with spyware».

Associations, migrants and refugees

In addition to «restricting the rights to freedom», Amnesty reports that authorities in the Kingdom prevented some associations and groups that are critical from «operating». According to the NGO, authorities «used unnecessary or excessive force to disperse demonstrations» in several parts of the country.

Amnesty said that in 2019, a Morocco court confirmed prison sentences of up to 20 years against 43 Hirak activists, arrested in 2017.

Meanwhile, it explained that during the same year «security forces arrested and detained thousands of migrants» and «forcibly transferred some to the south of Morocco and others to other countries».

The NGO also recalled that last year, women in Morocco continued to «face discrimination», citing «sexual and gender-based violence and prison sentences in relation to alleged illegal abortion». As for the LGBTQI+ community in Morocco, the report revealed that «police continued to harass lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex people» and «samesex sexual relations between consenting adults remained a criminal offence».

The report also included human rights violation that took place in the Tindouf camps in Algeria. According to Amnesty, «the Polisario Front detained at least two critics while an investigating judge explored treason and other charges against them», adding that the Front «failed to ensure that those responsible for committing human rights abuses in the camps in previous decades were brought to account».

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