Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moroccan court stops publication of Ould Rachid testimony

A Moroccan court has ordered Al-Jarida Al-Oula to stop publishing testimonies from a Moroccan human rights panel, including the testimony from CORCAS chief Khalihenna Ould Rachid that Morocco committed war crimes in Western Sahara. Al-Jarida's owner Ali Anouzla isn't happy:

"The verdict shows that press freedom has moved backwards," he told AFP.

"It is in flagrant contradiction with the spirit of the IER [human rights panel] because it takes away the possibility for citizens to be informed about the leaden years, while the IER wanted precisely the opposite to enable the page to be turned."

Meanwhile, the head of the Consulative Council on Human Rights, which wanted publication to stop, was pleased with the verdict. He said the publications would leave the testimonies for examination by historians, not journalists hustling for scoops. If you forgot your government-stooge to English translator at home, he means that he wants to hide the testimony until everyone accused in it is dead.

I hope Al-Jarida Al-Oula, if it decides the risk of continuing to publish the testimony isn't worth it, is able to give or sell the documents to a foreign paper (I think Spain would be best). That's not an ideal solution, though, because it makes the information more difficult for Moroccans to reach.

The Councill's censorious action seem like a continuation of the schizophrenia in a lot of Moroccan human rights work--the Council's recommendations on the Years of Lead (ending torture, for example) make it sound like it's made up of reasonable people, but their reaction to the publication of Ould Rachid's testimony suggests it's willing to trash Sahrawis to achieve their own goals.

It reminds me of the commission set up to examine human rights after the Years of Lead that was only too eager to disavow Sahrawi concerns and abandon its Sahara Section. I understand the motivation in both cases--specifically, being able to turn to more conservative Moroccans and say, "Sure, we're liberal on these issues, but at least we're not troublemaking Sahrawis"--but that kind of attitude needs to be ditched if human rights are to be respected in either country.

Obviously a lot of reformers like Ali Lmrabet are honest about Western Sahara. There just aren't enough of them.

Via Laroussi

29 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:41 PM

    So Morocco doesn't respect freedom of speech and the right of the media to report issues of concern to the public?

    Will, can you make a comparison between the truth and reconcialiation process in South Africa and Morocco.

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  2. Maybe. I don't know much about South Africa's, or the similar process that went on in Rwanda, but I'll do some kicking around tomorrow.

    It does seem like Morocco is trying to stop the publication because they're claiming it'll open old wounds or some such. While there's a place for confidentiality in these kind of commissions, one reason people testify is to stop the recurrence of similar events. Since gross human rights abuses continue in Western Sahara, obviously the commission didn't work and the next step is public discussion of previously sealed testimonies.

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  3. it's complicated, for moroccan someone that claims the indepedance of sahara is a traitor and so must be killed...
    it depends how you see the problem

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  4. Laroussi5:55 AM

    "So Morocco doesn't respect freedom of speech and the right of the media to report issues of concern to the public?"

    No "anonymous", Morocco does not respect freedom of speech when it regards the question of Western Sahara - if it goes against official policy. Don't you think that this is an issue of concern to the public in Morocco?

    Ali Lmrabet for example was banned by a Moroccan court from practising journalism for ten years.

    The you have persecutions of other Moroccan journalists, the ban on Al Jazeera, etc. The list is long.

    What is left of press freedom in Morocco? asks the international NGO Reporters without borders after the recent ruling against Al- Jarida Al-Oula.

    Read their post and you will have more than enough material for an essay about the lack of press freedom in Morocco. The situation is of course even worse in Western Sahara.

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  5. Anonymous6:41 AM

    Morocco doesn't respect any kind of freedom (speech, medias, ...even to own thinking) when it comes to the interests of the King and his close circle.
    For example, in Morocco, you can't talk in about his Forbes-estimated 2 Billion dollars fortune. You can't talk about how his companies, mainly the tentacular ONA holding, are monopolizing the economy in Morocco in a shameful conflict of interests.
    But forget about fortunes and money, I just remembered that the constitution of Morocco, created by the King by the way, literally says that the King is sacred.
    What freedom can you get from somebody who thinks he is sacred ?!

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  6. lies again and again :
    http://www.telquel-online.com/156/index_156.shtml

    telquel is a moroccan newspaper.

    Two things are forbiden :
    insulting the king and talking about the freedom of sahara.

    well telling lies is also forbiden that s why aljazeera is under pressure.
    but i think that does'nt matter for you telling lies?

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  7. Laroussi8:03 AM

    "telling lies is also forbiden"

    No, telling lies is not forbidden. It is ok to tell children in school that the ICC granted Morocco sovereignty over Western Sahara. It is also ok for Moroccan media to spread this lie.

    You only get punished when telling the wrong lies... ;)

    Concerning Al Jazeera they published an interview with a representative of a Moroccan human rights organisation, AMDH, I believe it was, saying that people had been killed in Sidi Ifni.

    Now this is not Al Jazeera lying. It is Al Jazeera publishing what might have been incorrect information.

    You do not lose your permission to broadcast due to something like that in a country with freedom of press.

    In Morocco however this is ok, since you have no separation between the political power and the jurisdictional power.

    The bottom line is that Moroccan "freedom of speech" and "freedom of press" leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least, as clearly stated in the article from Reporters without borders.

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  8. Laroussi8:06 AM

    Sorry, it should have been the ICJ granted Morocco sovereignty over Western Sahara and not the ICC.

    Which by the way everyone knows the ICJ, the International Court of Justice, did not do. It ruled against the Moroccan claims on Western Sahara. :)

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  9. Anonymous8:24 AM

    What's interesting about the Aljazeera case is that also Reuters reported deaths in Sidi Ifni. Guess what ? The chicken moroccan governement didn't dare to sue or even blame Reuters for publishing such information. Chicken !

    The second thing coming from the chicken governement is that instead of investigating and punishing the abuses done by security, sorry unsecurity, forces in Sidi Ifni, instead of that they are trying to turn people's attention away to Aljazeera. As if a TV coverage is the problem.

    By the way, the allegations coming from Sidi Ifni residents is that moroccan security forces have committed mass and structured abuse in the forms of : sexual harrasment of women, rape of women, acts of sodomy against men, theft of property. The facts that such acts were done in a massive and ordered action may qualify it as a war crime or crime against humanity.

    I strongly advise people from Sidi Ifni, their families and their supporters abroad to save the abundant testimonies in the Internet about these crimes, and to contact the United Nations in Geneva and New York in order to officially file claims against the Moroccan security forces.

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  10. Anonymous8:39 AM

    Why did the Moroccan court stop a publication of the crimes against humanity testimony????

    Are they afraid of something?

    Why is the King in Paris these days?

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  11. stop lying laroussi.
    ICJ said there were links (allegiance) between morocco and sahraoui tribes, but for the court and occidental laws they are not strong enough and so tey are for auto-determination.
    Morocco did'nt agree because allegiance is strong enough for us. that's the laws of our kingdom.

    and please guys if you have some bad things to say about morocco please bring some proves, exemple :
    "someone saw laroussi sodomying his dog"
    is a romantic statement and i'm sure you all want to believe this but guys without proves :/

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  12. Anonymous9:09 AM

    The question is why did the Moroccan court stop the publication of the testimony regarding the crimes against humanity???

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  13. Anonymous9:16 AM

    I just want the right to self-determiantion which is an inalienable right guaranteed to me by the UN and the ICJ as well as the AU.

    Moroccans have no right to be in my country, to imprison my people and torture them.

    Moroccans have no right to force thousands of my people to live in exile.

    Moroccans have no right to wage war against us which resulted in almost every Saharawi family loosing a member.

    I have lost an uncle, a cousin and a brother in law.

    Shame on you Morocco for killing neighbours.

    We are prepared to forgive but no forget.

    You can not hide the truth that is the crimes against humanity committed by Moroccan generals must be known and published.

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  14. Anonymous9:20 AM

    The Moroccans are trying to hijack the blogg and divert attention from real issues.

    Please those who support the Saharawis do not fall in this trap and get diverted.

    The Moroccans will use an important, petty things, they will aslo use abuse and bad words in order to provoke you and divert the discussion from the real issues: Human rights abuses, occupation, the right to self-determination...etc

    Be careful and be alert friends.

    9:19 AM

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  15. Morocco does not respect the verdict of the ICJ on Western Sahara according international law. So according to what law is Western Sahara occupied then?
    Saad wrote: that's the laws of our kingdom

    Good answer. I suppose those laws are strictly ISLAMIST?

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  16. Anonymous9:23 AM

    Saad, I mean Moroccan agent, go read the hundreds of Moroccan press reports about the mass rapes perpetrated by moroccan insecurity forces in Sidi Ifni. Or you want to tell us, as did your prime minister, that nothing is going on in Sidi ifni. What about the PJD parliamentary delegation that went there and said that what happened is the work of "criminals".

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  17. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Reporters without borders
    http://www.rsf.org/print.php3?id_article=27516

    Morocco | 17.06.2008
    Press freedom under attack from all sides, promises not kept


    What is left of press freedom in Morocco? The first six months of 2008 have been marked by an avalanche of trials and repressive judicial and administrative decisions. At the same time, promises by Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi’s government to reform the press law have still not materialised. No bill has yet been submitted to the chamber of deputies.

    “We are very worried by the deterioration in the press freedom situation in Morocco,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The mistrust that journalists feel towards the government has been reinforced by an increase in the number of prosecutions brought against them and the many other obstacles they have to face.”...
    .....

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  18. i am not an agent i'm moroccan that studies in France, i love my country and i think that in the past years my county has done a lot of progress and it's just the beginning.
    you know what ? in my opinion the lack of developpement is the worst thing that can happen.
    if you wanna live with idelogia you have cuba as an exemple. if you wanna a good life you have the u.s.a. Two ways of thinking and two lifes.
    Cuba supports polisario, Usa supports morocco...
    Think about it please

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  19. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Saad, glad to hear that you aren't a Moroccan agent but how it comes you are praising the human rights situations in Morocco. Do you think that mass rapes, theft and destruction of people's property by moroccan security forces is a proof that the King of Morocco is going towards democracy. These crimes are called CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. If Sidi Ifni residents are wise enough, they may sue the King and his insecurity forces in the United Nations for these crimes.

    If you are not aware of all the crimes happening in Morocco, then I remind you that just last week, 2demonstrations were orgnaized by Moroccans in PARIS to protest the violations that happened in Sidi Ifni.

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  20. well i know all that, and i m not happy about it. i had a friend that got injured in Rabat by police just because he was walking near some demonstration.
    moroccan security forces can be quite barbarian..
    we have a lot of thing to do...but i am an economist and in my opinion economics and developpement are the keys. It's a point of view

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  21. Anonymous11:14 AM

    One of the things that you have to do is to fight the dictatorship of King Mohammed VI and the abuses of his regime.

    I think mass legal suits in Europe and in the United States by Moroccans may be a good start. There are now hundreds of testimonies online about what happened in Sidi Ifni. It will help to make a case.

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  22. in sidi ifni. they negociated with them during a week. a port was bloked and several hundreds thousands kg of fish was lost.
    They must understand that the state can't do everything for them
    the intervention of the police was a good , a bit late and too brutal. but the right thing to do.

    and well Mohammed 6 is a very good king. I hope he will continue his good work and bring more prosperity and democracy.
    Me as a moroccan i'll try my best to help him develop my country ;)

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  23. Laroussi11:48 AM

    "stop lying laroussi"

    Please Saad tell me, what did I lie about?

    This is what I said:

    The ICJ did rule against Morocco's claims on Western Sahara.

    In Moroccan schools however students are taught that the ICJ ruled in favour of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

    I said that telling such lies is not prohibited in Morocco, in reference to your claim that lying is not allowed in Moroccan media. Thereafter I said that lying is not banned, it only depends what you lie about.

    Finally I pointed out that Reporters Without Borders strongly question the freedom of press in Morocco.

    Now, which of the above was a lie?

    By the way, regarding the phrase about "sodomying". Insulting people in a debate only shows how weak your arguments really are. Don't they teach you that in the French schools?

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  24. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Saad,

    If you consider that raping women, stealing money and jewelery from residents, and sodomizing men by Police forces in Sidi Ifni is "good", then you have revealed who you are.

    Fortunately, these crimes are currently categorized as CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. The next step for Sidi Ifni victims is to formally complain to the United Nations as a way to defend themselves.

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  25. hmm laroussi you lied because you didn't say that icj admitted that there were allegiance links between morocco and sahraoui tribes. that's was the main demand from morocco. what you said is a form of lies.
    about the "sodomizing" thing you are clever enough to understand what i mean.
    i meant that statement without proves are just trash.
    So if moroccan police did some raping and sodomizing i hope that they will be juged and punished
    i admit we have a quit brutal police...

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  26. Laroussi4:45 PM

    "laroussi you lied because you didn't say that icj admitted that there were allegiance links between morocco and sahraoui tribes."

    Interesting interpretation of truth from your part...

    Sure enough there has been legal ties between some Saharawi tribes and the Kingdom of Morocco at different moments during history. But you forget to mention that the court also ruled that such ties also had existed between some Saharawi tribes and Mauritania.

    Failing to mention this means that you were lying? ;)

    Besides the part about Mauritania, the ICJ has an even more important section where it rules out both Moroccan and Mauritanian claims on the territory and clearly states the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination:

    "the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory".

    All in all the ICJ ruled against Morocco's (and Mauritania's) claims on Western Sahara.

    Unfortunately Moroccan school teach students otherwise. A good start for solving the conflict about Western Sahara would be to present the full ruling to the people of Morocco and take the debate from there.

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  27. Saad, you make a good point that human rights activists risk their already precarious situations by speaking out for Western Sahara. They don't even have to call for a referendum or independence to do more than they're already doing, though--they didn't even acknowledge the grotesque abuses of Sahrawis during the Years of Lead.

    So confused about Laroussi sodomizing his dog, which I'm sure didn't happen and is not, Saad aside, a romantic statement.

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  28. Then whose dog was it? We need to get to the bottom of this.

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  29. Bottom, Alle? If that's a pun, I hope everyone sees it as the kind of lewd commentary that goes on at Western Sahara Info.

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