'Serious flaws' in trial of Moroccan Rif protesters: Amnesty

2018-12-17 14:37
Morocco (iStock)

Morocco (iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dozens detained during protests in Morocco's northern Rif region in 2016 and 2017 have been denied their right to a fair trial with some confessing under torture, Amnesty International said on Monday.

The London-based rights group said its analysis of a trial by a Casablanca court - which in June 2018 sentenced 54 people with ties to the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi protest movement to terms of one to 20 years - exposed "serious flaws".

"The first trial proceedings resulted in a gross miscarriage of justice," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director Heba Morayef in a statement, ahead of an appeal hearing set for Monday.

"The Moroccan government used these flawed legal proceedings to punish and silence prominent, peaceful social justice protesters and to intimidate others from speaking out," Morayef added.

The severity of the punishments - which were meted out to protest leaders, their followers, journalists and others - sparked anger and further protests, along with appeals for royal clemency.

The social unrest linked to Hirak began in the northern city of Al-Hoceima in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region.

The protesters had railed against corruption and unemployment.

Amnesty pointed to several alleged trial violations, including convictions based on "confessions" obtained by torture.

Interrogations and statements signed by defendants were in Arabic, a language many of them do not speak well, it said.

The rights group based its analysis on interviews with six lawyers for both defence and prosecution teams as well as six families of detainees.

Its evaluation also included the prosecutor's argument, the court's judgement and a range of reports.

Amnesty said the court only accepted 12 defence witnesses, refusing testimony from over 50 others.

Eleven of the 54 convicted in June received a royal pardon in August.

The cases of the remaining 43 are to be heard by the Casablanca appeal court.

Leader of the Hirak protest movement Nasser Zefzafi - who Amnesty said spent 15 months in solitary confinement - is among 39 still detained.

Another four with pending appeals have been provisionally released.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  morocco  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.