Morocco’s most influential rights group AMDH has deplored what it calls a surge in political and arbitrary detentions of human rights campaigners, journalists and social activists.
In a report covering last year and the first half of 2018, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) said there had been serious violations in remote parts of Rif – a predominantly Berber area. The region, alongside Jerada, Zagora and other places, has been shaken by protests.
“The numbers of political detainees surpassed those reported in the 1990s,” AMDH president Ahmed ElHaij told a news conference.
He noted that 1,020 people are either detained or being tried for their involvement in or support for peaceful protests across the kingdom.
The government did not immediately respond to the report, although human rights minister Mustapha Ramid has said Morocco is neither a paradise nor a hell for rights.
In the wake of 2011 Arab Spring protests, Morocco adopted a new constitution enshrining freedom of speech, and promoting other rights such as the strengthening of an independent judiciary, and enshrining Amazigh – which is spoken by the Berber community – as a national language.
But seven years on, AMDH said Morocco is letting slide the freedoms and human rights commitments promised to protesters.
The state has dragged its feet on implementing its international commitments to fight torture, the 296-page report said.
As for civil liberties, AMDH drew a bleak picture citing a violent crackdown by the state on peaceful protests notably in the Rif.
Last June, a Casablanca court handed jail terms to fifty-two people over the Rif demonstrations.
Following the Arab Spring of 2011, King Mohammed VI devolved some of his powers to an elected parliament.