“Stop looking for your son” – Human Rights Watch report on counterterrorism laws in Morocco

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the world has seen an increase in the implementation of anti-terrorism laws aimed at combatting the perceived increased threat of terrorism. These law, in most cases, provide police forces with increased powers to detain and hold people suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.

It is extremely unfortunate that in many countries, police and security forces have abused their powers in relation to dealing with terrorist suspects, and in many cases, because of a failure of the state to prosecute offenders, the officials act with impunity.

In a report on counterterrorism laws in Morocco, entitled “Stop looking for your son”, Human Rights Watch have exposed astounding violations of the human rights of terrorist suspects. The report also interestingly analyses the counterterrorism legislation in Morocco, exposing how even on paper the law is contrary to internationally agreed human rights standards. One example included in the report refers to the powers of plainclothes officers to detain individuals without providing identification and without a warrant and without providing the detainee with an explanation of the reasons for the arrest. I know that it is a cliché, but it sounds a lot like something Franz Kafka wrote about.

The report also shed light on US involvement, with specific mention being made to a CIA-funded Moroccan detention centre where ill-treatment of prisoners was prevalent. This is a particularly damaging allegation for the US to face, especially in light of the allegations of acquiescence to torture it is currently facing with the Wikileaks scandal (not to mention the situation that persists in America’s own detention centre in Cuba –  I don’t think we really need to spell out which detention centre is being referred to).

The report is well worth having a look at and can be found at: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/10/25/morocco-stop-looking-your-son

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