[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Tuesday reported [text] widespread torture of detainees [press release] in Morocco and Western Sahara at the hands of authorities. AI documented 173 cases of torture between 2010 and 2014, including beatings, asphyxiation, drowning techniques and rape threats. The report also stated that medical care, hygiene and food are lacking in the detention cells. There were also four suspicious deaths where torture had been alleged. Those who were tortured were detained for varied reasons, ranging from activism to terrorism or other crimes. Although the Moroccan government has expressed willingness to eliminate torture, AI says safeguards against torture have not been implemented, and judges and prosecutors often fail to investigate torture claims adequately. According to AI, many medical evaluations following torture reports were performed inadequately, after a significant delay, in the presence of the accused officers, and/or lacked psychological evaluations. AI is urging the Moroccan government to ensure that defense lawyers are present during interrogations, that prosecutors and judges investigate all reports of abuse, and to protect alleged torture victims from retaliation.
Morocco has received international attention for alleged human rights abuses in the last year. A judge in Spain decided [JURIST report] in April that genocide charges against seven former and current Moroccan officials, who were accused of committing torture and killings in Western Sahara from 1975-91, were justified. In November Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that Moroccan authorities are interfering with the work of human rights organizations [JURIST report]. A Moroccan court last August sentenced [JURIST report] human rights activist Ouafa Charaf to one year in prison after being convicted of falsely alleging that she had been tortured by police. Last May then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on the government of Morocco to enforce [JURIST report] the human rights provisions in its 2011 constitution.