Morocco: Rights group demands to know activist's fate

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Casablanca, 19 Feb. (AKI) - Human Rights Watch has called on Moroccan authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of human rights activist, Chekib el-Khiari who has not been seen since he reported to the judicial police in Casablanca on Tuesday.

Early on Thursday, plainclothes police searched el-Khiari’s home in the city of Nador without a warrant and confiscated his computer and documents, family members said.

El-Khiari, 30, is president of the independent Human Rights Association of the Rif and has spoken out publicly on sensitive issues confronting this coastal region of northern Morocco, including illegal drug-trafficking and migration to Europe by Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans.

He also discussed major issues on a programme on Moroccan TV last month. El-Khiari often spoke publicly about the cultural rights of Morocco’s Amazigh (Berber) population.

“El-Khiari is a well-known and respected human rights activist in a region facing many challenges,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Authorities should comply with Moroccan law and disclose immediately where he is being held. They should also release him quickly unless they charge him with a recognisable offense.”

El-Khiari received the summons from the national bureau of the judicial police on 16 February in Nador but it did not state its purpose or relationship to any charge or investigation, HWR noted.

Morocco’s code of penal procedure allows the police, with the approval of the prosecutor's office to place a person suspected of non-terrorist offences in detention for up to 72 hours. However, the police are required to inform the suspect’s family immediately.

El-Khiari’s relatives have heard nothing about his whereabouts, said Amine El-Khiari, Chekib’s younger brother.

Publié dans Actualité

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