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Morocco criticises Amnesty International over anti-torture campaign

As activists plan a sit-in at the Interior Ministry, Morocco says its human rights record is "distinguished" and slams anti-torture campaign
Mustafa Radim, the Moroccan minister who slammed Amnesty International on Wednesday (AFP)
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A Moroccan minister has criticised human rights group Amnesty International over its campaign to combat torture in the country.

His comments came hours before Amnesty launched a sit-in in front of the Parliament building in Rabat to protest “the decisions of the Interior Ministry.”

Morocco’s Minister of Justice and Freedoms, Mustafa al-Ramid, slammed Amnesty after a meeting with the organisation on Wednesday evening.

Amnesty International included Morocco in a list of five countries, including Nigeria, Mexico and the Philippines, that it is targeting in a campaign to stop torture.

“The campaign led by Amnesty International has positives and negatives. Among the positives is that it pushes Morocco pay greater attention to taking the necessary steps in countering isolated incidents of torture.”

However, he said that Morocco’s inclusion in the list of five countries targeted by the campaign “does not tally with Morocco’s efforts and the real human right situation” in the country.

He said that compared with other countries not included in the list, Morocco is “distinguished by its progressive human rights situation.”

Amnesty International has frequently criticised Morocco over its human rights record, most recently for jailing activists after they reported torture in jail in August. 

Amnesty has also been outspoken about the issue of Western Sahara, where Morocco has blocked attempts to introduce human rights monitoring.

His comments hit the presses as activists from Amnesty International in Morocco, along with representatives of the group’s British, American, Spanish, French and Danish sections, prepared to start a sit-in against torture at Morocco’s Interior Ministry headquarters from 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

Photo credit: Facebook / Amnesty International Morocco

Amnesty had come under fire in Morocco last week, after authorities banned an event called the 16th International Campus for Youth, organised by the group.

Morocco accused Amnesty of not providing information about “the topic of the event and the nationalities of the participants”, and failing to inform authorities about the event in the first place.

In reply, the organisation launched a campaign under the hashtag #KeepTheCampusAlive, featuring supporters from around the world holding signs displaying the message.