News / Africa

HRW: Moroccan Courts Use 'Dubious Confessions'

Cover of Human Rights Watch report on Morocco
Cover of Human Rights Watch report on Morocco
TEXT SIZE - +
Selah Hennessy
— Courts in Morocco are convicting defendants based on confessions that the accused say were obtained by torture or were falsified by police, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said Friday.

One man told Human Rights Watch how he had been refused access to a lawyer and was told he would be beaten to death if he did not sign a confession.

He says his body could not take any more torture and so he told them: “If you want me just to sign, here is my signature.”

The report examines five trials carried out between 2009 and 2013 - 77 cases were heard in total - that included protestors, Western Sahara activists and people accused of plotting terrorism.

Tamara Alrifai from Human Rights Watch says many defendants allege their confessions had been obtained through ill-treatment while in detention.

“We are talking about the people who are arrested not being informed why they are arrested, not being able to inform their family that they are arrested, and also not having immediate access to a lawyer as stipulated by the Moroccan law. We are also talking about psychological and physical ill-treatment,” Alrifai said.

Moroccan authorities say they have made moves to reform their judiciary.

  • In 2009 King Mohammed VI announced a drive to reform the judiciary.
  • In 2011, following popular demonstrations for reform, a new constitution was introduced, which included steps to strengthen judicial independence.
     
Moroccan law criminalizes torture and prohibits courts from using statements obtained under “violence or coercion.”
 
But Alrifai says the Human Rights Watch investigation shows that judges ignore complaints made by the defendants over alleged ill treatment.

“We are also seeing a judiciary, a set of judges, that do not even question allegations given to them during the procedures. So they just blindly follow the reports that come with the defendants from the police stations, which are often erroneous or are accusations extracted under torture,” Alrifai said.

The Human Rights Watch report makes a number of recommendations, including that people who are detained have prompt access to lawyers and that courts investigate allegations of torture.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid