07 – 11 - 2010
In this report on forced disappearance in Morocco we will present a brief overview of what is known in Morocco as the "years of lead" during which several cases of forced disappearance were made. Then, we are going to state the efforts undertaken by the state under pressure from internal and external NGOs of human rights, to shed light on cases of forced disappearance. Thirdly, we will give examples of cases of disappearance recognized by the state and examples of egregious cases whose fate has remained unknown. Finally, we are going to present the claims of human rights NGOs that fight against forced disappearances in Morocco.
Most of these violations have been deemed as state crimes and crimes against humanity. In fact, there were:
• thousands of political detentions, hundreds of people reported missing - about 1,500 according to some human rights NGOs.
• assassinations of political leaders such as Mehdi Ben Barka and systematic physical torture of opponents such as Houcine Manouzi, El Abdi, A. Zeroual and M. Grina among others.
• Disproportionate massive repression of revolts and riots such as those of 23 rd March 1965 , June 1981 in Casablanca and of 1984 in Marrakesh and of 1990 in Fes, Tetouan and Tanger.
• decrepit penal camps such as Tazmamart and illegal detention centres such as Derb Moulay Chérif or Dar El Mokri.
Morocco has witnessed over thirty years of human rights abuse during which different forms of repression were deployed. The most flagrant cases of these are the 23rd March 1965 revolt, the Ben Barka affair - October 1965, the massive political trials, which in fact, were parody trials and the cases of forced disappearances and illegal detentions at secret and illegal detention centers such as Dar El Mokri, Tazmamart, kalaat M'gouna, Agds, The 'Complexe' and 'El Korbés'.
The multiple repressive devices deployed by what is called the “makhzen system”' had absolute power to operate outside the legal system in order to muzzle and /or tame any form of opposition towards the regime. Here, We'll undertake to cite some cases of these violations of human rights and state crimes.
The case which has made the headlines for a very long time and is still not resolved until today is that of the left wing leader, Mehdi Ben Barka. On 29th October 1965, with the complicity of the French secret services, he was kidnapped by the men of Hassan II in the midst of Paris. He was then assassinated and his body was , according to Mr Boukhari, a former political police agent, dissolved in acid in Dar El Mokri.
Those detained in the Tazmamart penal camp, initially a military barrack in the south of the High Atlas Mountain, were the attempted failed coups mutineers, The French of Tunsian origin the Bourequat Brothers and some Africans were subjected to terrible conditions when jailed in cramped dark individual cells. They had to face total isolation, the rough hot and cold climate, the heinous treatment of guards, and were served vile and insufficient food portions. In addition , on their arrival they were told they would never leave that prison. In fact, after 18 long years of detention, only 30 out of 54 were able to survive the terrible conditions.
The Oufkir family is another example. They also had to suffer the ordeal of inhuman detention. At the time of their detention the family consisted of the spouse, the six children, the youngest of whom was only about three, a family relative, and the children's governess. Their only crime was being “the family” of General Oufkir the man who plotted a failed putsch in 1972.
As soon as his funeral was over, the whole of his family was deported to a dwelling in the Akka Oasis to the south of the country. In 1974, they were moved to another site located in Tazmamart . Theirs was a two-room dwelling with walled up windows. The food was rationed daily and amounted to some bread and a tin of sardines while their personal belongings were confiscated.
Three years later , they were all transferred to an old farm near Bir Jdid, 40 kms to the South of Casablanca. This time they were jailed in separate small dark cells. In 1987, after the escape of four of the children, diplomatic negotiations undertaken by their French lawyer failed. Only when the affair was internationally mediatised , did Hassan II eventually decide on their release in February 1991. Only five years later, could all the family have the right to get passports and travel abroad. This decision was made subsequently to the escape of one of the daughters outside Morocco via the northern part of the country.
Another case is that of the Manouzi family. 18 of its members , the father of which and some of his sons UNFP members, were arrested in 1970 and subject to torture in the Derb Moulay Chérif detention Centre. On his second arrest in 1973, Ali Manouzi said he was taken to Derb Moulay Chérif to El Korbès aircraft hangars in the Casablanca airport. Each of the four blocks hosted up to thousands of prisoners with bandaged eyes and in shackles. Their age ranged between 14 and 116 and seemed to bear aftereffects of torture. Some of them died subsequently. Besides, in 1972 one of Manouzi's sons was kidnapped from Tunisia and has been reported missing ever since.
• settling the pending files from the IAI
• establishing the truth about “flagrant violations” of human rights committed by “state devices” between 1956 and 1999,
• paving the way for reforms to avoid their duplication.
The IER consists of eight members from the Consultative Board of Human Rights (Le Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l' Homme: CCDH) , set up by late Hassan II king in 1990, and of eight representatives from civil society, especially from leftist opposition movements, some of whom had themselves been the victims of the lead years era. Driss Benzekri, for instance, who was the IER president as well as the founder of Truth and Justice an association of the families of previous victims
In six months, the newly founded body had successfully met some of its targets . Hence, setting up a highly performant data base, according to Mr Driss El Yazami , allowed the treatment of nine thousand files in nine weeks' time. This institution also collected testimonies on the repression of the 1958 Berber uprise in the Rif area. In addition, it organized decentralized public auditions in ten Moroccan cities. However, on its website the IER published only the testimonies not involving individuals in its keeping with the rule prohibiting any mention of individual responsibility of any suspect.
However, this process aroused some skepticism in university and military circles, Thus, Youssef EL Bouhairi, a public foreign law professor at the university of Marrakesh and a member of the Human Rights Moroccan Organization, feared that the IER would “turn the page on the lead years without having actually read it.”. He pointed out a year was too short to allow for the handling of thousands of complaints from over forty three years of abuse, the longest ever treated by a truth commission. According to Khadija Rouissi Secretary General of The FVJ “should be able to specify the institutional responsibilities of the administrative bodies involved” . While sparing those involved in these crimes still in office in a Moroccan state that claims its continuity with the previous reign, this body would act in accordance with “ a good compromise to build up democracy”. The task of The IER is certainly to contribute to the establishment of the “truth” about the “lead years” and also about the victims , concluded the ex “missing” Fouad Abdelmouni (1). Having a limited radius of action, “explicitly excludes (...) the establishment of the truth which would incriminate the regime or its policy”.
The CCDH has pursued the investigations as recommended and has proceeded to analyze the data base provided by the authorities on the eve of the publication of the IER report deciding not to take it in consideration in view of the fact that that it received it late. On the basis of these elements and on the basis of new information obtained later from some public authorities, the follow up committee in charge of enforcing the recommendations of the IER proceeded to the analysis and ranking of these cases as follows:
Politically induced disappearances
There are 49 cases in all. One of the victims is M. Abrouk Alami who was exiled to Algeria then to ex-Yougoslavia. He had been reported missing since 1964 and his family hadn't had any news of him since then. Mohamed Baâkili is another. Born in 1931, he was a victim of arbitrary detention further to the March 1973 events. He was held captive for a year in Anfa airport, before being transferred to the Casablanca civil prison. On his release, he suffered from a mental illness induced by the torture he was subjected to. In 1980, he disappeared for the second time until 1983, when he returned home with extremely poor health. Five months later he disappeared again.
The remaining cases, 47 in all, consisting of two women and three children having died in different detention centres, are as follows:
The children :
Moussaoui Batoule ; Ezzhou Rkia ; and Tsellem Soulami.
Khira Talebi ; and Lhmadi Cheikh Ahmed Fatéma.
The men :
Ahmed Ould Sid Old Al Hadi ;
Mohamed Fadel Jed Ahloua Sayed ;
Makhlouf Mohamed Salem Ould Laâbid ould Hama;
Babit Sidi Al Mahjoub ;
Taleb Ben Mohamed Mouloud;
Miyara Mahjoub Ibrahim ;
Mouloud Lahcen Sayeda ;
Mohamed Salem Hamedi Abdellah ;
Sidi Ahmed Ibrahim Lemouahed ;
Elkadi El Khalil Mhamed Moussaoui;
Alhfd Ould Hama Ould Mbarek ;
Najem Ould Brahim Ould ahmed Salem;
Radi Mohamed Mbarek Ben Loulad ben Abdellah;
Ibrahim salem ould Ahmed wahmida ;
Wahmane Nafîi Ben Milid Hma ;
Mohamrd lamine Ould Sidi Ould Laâbid Ould Hma;
Mohcine El Amrani ;
Jamil Mohamed Alhaj Amrou ;
Salem Abdellatif ;
El Jaouhari Hammou ;
Ait Naceur Sidi Mohamed ;
Hbbaz Boujamaa ;
Oufkir Ali Ben Dahhane ;
Abdellah Ould Maassoud Ould Abdelkader ;
Hassna Ould Bichri Ould Sidi ;
Abdel Salem Hrafi ;
Omar Abdelouahed Ben Abdelkader;
Hammadi Ould Bichri Sidi ;
Mohamed Salem Ould Ahmed Al âabd Ould Yadhih;
Oudadi Ibrahim Saleh ;
Bennouna Ahmed Ben Abderrahmane;
Chamlal Amrou ;
El khalil Ben Didi;
Hassan Ammar Askna Blaw;
Azzhou Mohamed ;
Mohamed El Kouri Moussaoui ;
Saaidi Mbarek ;
Aba Mohamed Salem ;
Chouiikh Ould Ali ;
Mohamed Oul Ali ;
Mhamed Boufouss ;
Najmi El Mokhtar ;
Bouzraa Ahmed ;
Kajjari Hassan ;
Idrissi Moulay Hamid ;
Mouloud Boulh ;
El Fakir Abdelaziz ; and
Dardach Lahbib Ben Mahmoud.
1. Abdelhak Rouissi
Abdelhak Rouissi is one of the first extinct since independence, at the age of 25.
Framework of the Bank of Morocco, trade unionist and leftist intellectual, he was the linchpin of a strike by public service managers in 1962, and has also campaigned against nuclear testing in the Sahara and against the sand war.
Abdelhak Rouissi was abducted from his home Oct. 4, 1964, then tortured and murdered a few weeks later.
A tomb, found in January 2006, the Equity and Reconciliation, the square of the "unknown" Sbata cemetery in Casablanca under the name of Abdelhak Ben X, and could therefore be that of Abdelhak Rouissi.
Recent DNA tests, commissioned by the Consultative Council on Human Rights in Nantes French laboratory, concluded that Abdelhak Ben X is not Abdelhak Rouissi.
His parents Lalla Fatima Hassan Skalli and Si Rouissi left before knowing the fate of their son.
Rouissi family continues the fight and claims the creation of mechanisms that have the necessary powers and sufficient even to continue the investigations to establish the truth about the case still unresolved.
2 – Mehdi Ben Berka
The man was a historical figure of the national Moroccan movement under the protectorate, was an opposition leader in the early reign of Hassan II (1920-1965). Born in 1920 in a civil servant's family . He studied Mathematics in Algiers and became a high school teacher. Close to the palace, he taught in the Royal College. One of his students then was the future king of Morocco Hassan II.
At the same time he politically enrolled against the French « protectorate » in Morocco. Therefore, as early as 1943, he was involved in founding the Istiqlal party (The independence party). In 1945, he became one of the main figures of this party which led the country to independence. Also, in 1955, he joined in the negotiations leading to the return of Mohammed V from Madagascar, the land of his forced exile by the French.. Between 1956 and 1959, Ben Barka was at the head of the Consultative Assembly of Morocco. Representing the left wing of a party that was too conservative in his eyes, he then instigated the split and founded the Union Nationale des Forces Populaires of Morocco – UNFP , thus fostering the opposition against the regime.
In 1963, he denounced the border conflict between Morocco and Algeria. Charged with plotting, he was sentenced to death in absentia . Being the main opposition leader in Morocco, he had denounced “this medieval regime which is attempting to resuscitate those medieval structures of Moroccan society”.
Consequently he was pushed to exile. He lived in Geneva and in Cairo where he imposed himself as an active member in the third world struggles. Hence, he was asked to organize the participation of third world revolutionary movements at the 1966 Havana tricontinental conference .
Mehdi Ben Barka was kidnapped in Paris by French police officers on 29th October 1965 at 151, Saint Germain Boulevard. He was taken to the Fonteney –le – Vicomte villa in the Essonne Area. Since then, he has never been seen. What is called the Ben Barka affair began. Today we know that he had been tortured by Mohammed Oufkir the head of the secret Moroccan Police . His body has never been found.
3 – Houssine El Manouzi
Born on 11th March 1943, Houssine Manouzi, a 29- year- old plane mechanic and a trade unionist and member of the Union Nationale des Forces Populaires Party was kidnapped by security services on 29th October 1972 in Tunis the capital and driven in the trunk of a diplomatic car to Morocco . Until today nothing is known as to what then happened to him.
4 – Atkou Ahmed Ben Ali
He was then a student at The Crown Prince High school in the town of Ouarzazate. He was acquainted with some students from the Western Sahara who in turn were kidnapped in 1975.
5 - Akoudar El Yazid
He used to be a technician agent in the regional administration of Agadir. He got kidnapped on 26th March 1980 on his way back home from work.
6 – Omar El Ouassouli
Omar El Ouassaouli was born in 1955, in Jorf, a small village in Errachidia Province. He got his Baccalaureate in 1975. He studied in the Meknes National School for Agriculture for the 1976-1977 academic year. Known to be a supporter of 'Ilal Amam', Omar was an activist in ENA a student association. In 1979, he got an agricultural engineer post in Khénifra.
Soon he was summoned by the police three times in 1980. In September of the same year he was held for 27 days at the police station.
As he was offered a job by the FAO, he went to France to do engineering studies . However, the Ministry of Agriculture did not approve of his new job. In January 1983, he found a job in a Belgian engineering consulting company ITECO. Two days after getting his annual vacation on 15th February 1984, he went to visit his brother Abdelhak in Casablanca . Nothing seemed unusual then when he told his brother he would go to Kénitra for a few days. This was the last time when he was seen.
7 – Salhi Madani
Still a student in 1974, he was jailed for 15 days. On graduation with a BA degree he was appointed as an authority training agent. To become a lawyer he then resigned from this on 30th May 1983. Three years later on 15th May1986, he disappeared.
8 – Islami Mohamed
Born in 1970 in the city of Oujda, he was kidnapped from his sister's home in The Océan area in Rabat on 29th November 1997. He had just had his PHD degree two days before.
9 - Belkacem Ouezzane
Arrested in April 17th of 1972 on the borders of the Moroccan-Algerian, Mr. Belkacem Ouezzane Figuig born in 1924, was transferred to secret detention center of Anfa Airport in Casablanca, better known under the name "Corbis" and then the center of Derb Moulay Cherif in the same city. Illegally detained until January 73, he was imprisoned in Kenitra Central Prison.
Referred to the permanent military court in Kenitra, M. Belkacem Ouezzane was released in August 30, 1973 and was kidnapped in the same day within the prison, he has been missing since that date.
According to witnesses, he was seen in the secret detention center in Temara, where he spent about a year, then the center of Tagounit where he remained two years before being transferred to the center along with a Agdz group of inmates.
His name has been cited by CCHR in 1998 among those who died during their forced disappearance.
10 – Abderrahmane Derouiche
An immigrant worker in Germany, he returned to Morocco to spend his vacation there on 4th July 1999. The last time he was seen was on 20th July with three strangers in his 250 Mercedes car which disappeared as well.
Among the most recent examples of forced disappearances are:
1 - Adnane ZEKHBATE, kidnapped on 19th March 2010 from a mosque in Errachidia town.
2 - Abdelaziz JANAH, kidnapped on 18th April 2010 from his house in Bouznika town at midnight.
3 - Younès ZARLI, kidnapped on 12th April 2010 from his parents' house in Casablanca.
4 - Abderrahim ELHAJOULI, kidnapped from his house in Casablanca on March 30th of 2010.
Human Rights Organizations such as The Moroccan Association for Human Rights, The Justice and Truth Forum, The Moroccan League for Human rights, The Human Rights Organization and The Equity Association demand that the Moroccan government ratifies the International convention for the protection of all the people against forced disappearances. In addition, they demand the application of all the recommendations of the outcome of The Equity and reconciliation Body which are as follows:
To ensure non-recurrence of serious violations of human rights and consolidate the reform process in the field, the ERC under the pressure of NGOs on Human Rights has issued a series of recommendations, including on constitutional reforms, the implementation of a national strategy to fight against impunity and monitoring recommendations.
I- The consolidation of constitutional guarantees of human rights, including the inclusion of the principle of the rule of International Law of Human Rights on domestic law, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial ...
Moreover, it is recommended strengthening the principle of separation of powers and the constitutional prohibition of any interference by the executive in the organization and functioning of the judiciary.
It recommends explaining the constitution, the hold of fundamental rights and freedoms, respect the freedoms of movement, expression, demonstration, association, strike ... as well as principles such as the secrecy of correspondence, the inviolability of the home and respect for privacy.
In addition, the Human Rights NGOs recommend to strengthen the control of the constitutionality of laws and autonomous regulations emerging from the Executive, by providing in the constitution the right of every litigant to invoke an exception of the unconstitutionality of a law or regulation independently.
Like the longstanding constitutional prohibition of the one-party system, they finally recommend the prohibition of forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, genocide and other crimes against humanity, torture and all cruel, inhuman or and the prohibition of all degrading forms of discrimination internationally prohibited, and any form of incitement to racism, xenophobia, violence and hatred.
II-The adoption and implementation of an integrated national strategy to fight against impunity. The Human Rights NGOs believe that the eradication of impunity requires, in addition to legal reforms, the development and implementation of public policies in the areas of justice, security and maintenance of order, education and training, as well as active involvement of the whole society.
This strategy must be based on international law of human rights, carrying out the harmonization of criminal law with international commitments, and this:
- By integrating the internal law definitions, qualifications and elements of the crimes of forced disappearance, torture and arbitrary detention. Using the definition of liability and penalties as defined in international instruments
- Requiring any member of staff responsible for civil or military law enforcement to report any information concerning the said crimes, what that Either the authority Sponsor
- By significantly strengthening the protection of victims' rights and remedies.
III- The Human Rights NGOs consider the consolidation of the rule of law requires further reforms in the areas of security, justice, law and criminal policy and political legislation. Thus, they recommend:
1-The governance of security apparatus that would require an upgrade, the clarification and publication of regulations concerning the powers, organization, decision-making processes, modes of operation and systems of supervision and evaluation of all safety devices and information, without exception, and authorities in charge of maintaining public order or in hold of the power to use public force.
2-Strengthening the independence of the judiciary, beyond the recommendations of constitutional order, the review by an organic law, of the status of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM). NGOs recommended in this regard, that the chair of MSC by delegation to the First President of the Supreme Court and the expansion of its membership, to other areas as the judiciary, ...
3-The upgrade of the law and penal policy, which requires the strengthening of guarantees of rights and procedure against violations of human rights, the implementation of the recommendations of the National Symposium held in penal policy Meknes in 2004, a definition of violence against women in accordance with international standards, the implementation of the recommendations of the Consultative Board of Human Rights (CCHR) for prisons (enlargement of the prerogatives of the judge's application of penalties , use of alternative sentences ...)
4-Monitoring mechanisms. NGOs of Human Rights consider the following questions must be the aim of procedures and monitoring mechanisms:
- The enforcement of decisions relating to compensation and monitoring the implementation of other terms of compensation the medical and psychological rehabilitation of victims, the Community Service programs;
-The implementation of recommendations relating to the establishment of the truth concerning cases still unresolved;
- The implementation of reform recommendations made by the IER the preservation of IER archives and public records.