Debate in Morocco on an “excessive” use of preventive detention ~ #AFP:

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At the end of 2019, more than a third of the detainees (39%), or 33,689 people, were in pre-trial detention – that is to say awaiting trial – in Moroccan prisons, according to an annual report by the public prosecutor. .

This ministry thus calls on the magistrates to “rationalize the measure of pre-trial detention”, recalling precisely that it must remain “exceptional”.

“The legislator is required to propose alternatives to pre-trial detention”, he argues, calling for a “rapid” adoption of the alternative sanctions provided for by a reform of the penal code under discussion in Parliament since 2016.

“The excessive use” of preventive detention, an “exceptional measure which has become almost a rule”, is one of the main causes of prison overcrowding, for its part deplored the prison administration last July.

And for the coalition for the defense of human rights, which brings together 20 main militant organizations, “the policy of pre-trial detention in Morocco is applied without balance, wisdom or forethought”.

The situation of freedoms is “at its worst stage,” she wrote in a statement, urging to end “the arrests before investigations and trials”.

“Not a threat”

On this basis, these NGOs demand the release of “all the victims of preventive detention”, addressing the cases of journalists Souleimane Raissouni and Omar Radi, as well as that of historian and human rights activist Maati Monjib.

In the eyes of the lawyer who represents the three men, “nothing justifies their pre-trial detention”: “they were not arrested in flagrante delicto, do not constitute a threat” and present all the required legal guarantees, underlines Me Mohamed Messaoudi.

For him, this “confirms their statements that they are being held because of their opinions.”

These three cases have mobilized for several months political figures, intellectuals and human rights defenders, in Morocco and abroad.

Mr. Monjib, 60, was arrested on December 29 in a restaurant in Rabat as part of an investigation for “money laundering”. He was “received” for the first time by the investigating judge on Wednesday, according to his lawyer.

According to the historian, the charges are “not new” and correspond to the indictment of an ongoing trial for “financial embezzlement” and “endangering state security”. This trial officially opened in 2015, but hearings have been continually adjourned since.

“Independence”

The editor-in-chief of the Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar Al-Yaoum, Soulaimane Raissouni, 48, has been in preventive care for eight months after being accused of sexual assault. No trial date has been set while the investigation is completed, according to his defense.

Omar Radi, 34, has been sleeping in prison for six months in a twin case of espionage and rape. The investigation for rape linked to a complaint lodged by one of his colleagues was completed at the end of November, the investigation for espionage is still ongoing.

The espionage accusations came after the publication of an Amnesty International report claiming that his phone had been hacked by the authorities, which Rabat has consistently denied.

To those who denounce the “abusive” detentions of these three personalities, the Moroccan authorities systematically respond by invoking “the independence of the judiciary” and strict respect for procedures.

In early January, majority and opposition MPs also called for a “rationalization” of pre-trial detention, examining the prosecutor’s report and throwing the ball back into the government’s court.

At the same time, this procedure, regularly pointed out for many years, was back in the spotlight with the case of a 34-year-old worker, placed in preventive care for two weeks for stealing eggs, before being sentenced to one month. of prison suspended by justice.

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Source: VOA-AFP.

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