Thursday, June 25, 2009

3 years prison for Moroccon amazigh rights activist

The sentencing today of the human rights activist Chekib el-Khayari to three years in prison is a stark reminder of Morocco’s tenuous and uneven progress on human rights, Human Rights Watch said. El-Khayari, who had criticized public officials for alleged complicity in drug-trafficking, was convicted of “gravely insulting state institutions,” and of minor violations of regulations governing foreign bank accounts and currency.

El-Khayari is president of the Association for Human Rights in the Rif, an independent organization based in the Mediterranean coastal city of Nador. Before his arrest on February 17, 2009, el-Khayari had made numerous statements on drug-trafficking from northern Morocco to Europe, both to the international media and in conferences in Europe, accusing some officials
of complicity in the trade or laxness in combating it. El-Khayari is also an activist for Amazigh (Berber) rights and has spoken out against mistreatment of migrants and abuses by both Moroccan and Spanish security forces at the border with the Spanish enclave of Melilla. All of these factors make the Rif region a sensitive issue in Morocco. MORE HERE

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