Morocco Rights Groups Boycotting Marrakech Meeting

A group of Moroccan human rights groups announced Monday they would boycott an international human rights conference being held in their country because of consistent government interference.
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights, the country’s most active and well known independent rights group, said they were initially invited to participate but then sidelined and excluded from the preparation for the 2nd World Forum for Human Rights.
The statement, which was also signed by seven other organizations, described how calls to release detainees and end a crackdown on various groups was ignored, prompting the boycott.
The move also comes after Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad railed against human rights groups in June, saying they sullied the reputation of security services by accusing them of torture.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement earlier this month November pointing out that the recent crackdown on human rights groups in Morocco, including jailing activists and preventing the holding of meetings, jarred with its hosting of the human rights forum.
The meeting, held last year in Brazil, will bring together rights groups from all over the world to the resort city of Marrakech on Thursday and discuss the rights of women, children and promoting human rights awareness among young people.
The dissenting groups’ statement said they decided to boycott after their suggestions for the conference were ignored and the government continued to repress any organizations with which it disagreed.
Morocco’s government has repeatedly expressed its commitment to human rights and a new constitution passed in 2011 after pro-democracy demonstrations includes many protections of human rights.
On Saturday, Moroccan authorities expelled two Americans from the disputed Western Saharaterritory, which was annexed in 1975, after they met with a local activist, saying it violated the provisions of their tourist visa.