Tuesday 25 October 2016

US human rights report a list of lies - Morocco

Published 18/05/2016 | 01:31

Morocco has reacted angrily over a US report on human rights in the kingdom
Morocco has reacted angrily over a US report on human rights in the kingdom

A furious Morocco has slammed a US State Department report on human rights in the kingdom, calling it a list of inventions and lies.

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The Interior Ministry said the report's content was "truly scandalous", according to the country's official MAP news agency.

Morocco is an important US ally in a volatile region, particularly valuable for its help in the fight against terrorism, making its irate, public reaction to last month's report highly unusual.

The report's contents "went from approximation of information to pure and simple invention, from erroneous appreciation to lies", MAP quoted the ministry as saying.

It condemned the sources used to compile the report as "unreliable" and "politically hostile".

The US issues a country-by-country report each year on human rights around the world.

The State Department's latest report, issued on April 13, listed corruption and widespread disregard by security forces for the rule of law as two significant continuing problems in Morocco.

Interior minister Mohamed Hassad has met US ambassador Dwight Bush over the report, and "technical working sessions" with embassy officials had been held, the ministry said, apparently to no avail.

"Morocco wants no more evasive responses, but precise case by case answers," he said.

Morocco was obliged "to explore all possible paths" to uncover the report's errors and "is prepared to go to the end", not excluding taking its case to the "highest authorities in the different national American institutions", he said.

State Department spokesman John Kirby rejected the criticism of the report. "The Department of State stands by the information contained in the 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Morocco," he said.

Among other things, the lengthy report said "systematic and pervasive corruption undermined law enforcement and the effectiveness of the judicial system", adding that "impunity was pervasive" with no official data about prosecution or punishment of officials committing abuses.

It also said decisions at trials touching on politically sensitive issues like the monarchy, security and Islam as it pertains to political life "appeared predetermined".

While reports of disappearances and torture, widespread in the 1970s and 1980s, have eased, the State Department report noted a 2014 document by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, citing "sources deemed to be credible" saying that disappearances had continued.

While torture is constitutionally forbidden, the State Department report quoted an Amnesty International review claiming that "an array of torture techniques are used by Moroccan security forces to extract confessions ... silence activists and crush dissent".

The Interior Ministry questioned the credibility of a report prepared in Washington and based on reports submitted by "a few individuals with no credibility or a handful of Moroccans known for years for their aversion to the regime", according to MAP.

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