UN Special Rapporteur on torture [official website] Juan Mendez said Saturday after a visit to Morocco that the human rights situation in the country is improving but that more effort is needed to eradicate torture [press release]. Mendez stated that the situation pertaining to torture had improved greatly over the past decade, when secret detentions and disappearances were commonplace, but that he still received reports of improper interrogations of detainees. Mendez noted that reports of torture were generally connected to large demonstrations and excessive forced used by police forces. Mendez also noted that incidents of sexual assault and attacks against migrants are on the rise in the country.
Morocco has had a controversial human rights record during its government's transition away from a highly centralized monarchy. Last week Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Morocco to release five prisoners [JURIST report] who were allegedly convicted based on false confessions obtained through torture. In July Moroccan voters overwhelmingly approved a revised version of the constitution [JURIST report], highlighted by fewer powers reserved for their king. The constitutional revisions were a product of a reform process announced last April following peaceful demonstrations [JURIST reports] demanding democratic reforms as part of the wider protests in the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Commentators state that Morocco has continued to move forward in improving human rights but that it still has a duty to ratify [JURIST op-ed] the Rome Statute [text], the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court [official website].