By Lina Mernissi
By Lina Mernissi
Ifrane – Amnesty International launched a petition in solidarity with the Common-Law prisoners Oussama Housne and Wafae Charaf, both convicted and sentenced, separately by the Casablanca Court of First Instance and the Tangier Court of First Instance, for “providing false accusations, slander and public defamation actions against a public institution.”
Amnesty International’s justification for their demand, pertaining to the release of the aforementioned arrestees, is based on the assertion that they “were arrested for expressing their views.” This is a displaced argument that demonstrates the lack of distinction between freedom of expression, guaranteed by law, and committing a crime through verbal or written statements, punishable by law, such as: advocating terrorism, defamation and slanderous statements. Based on this misguided rationale we should then legitimize the act of anyone advocating terrorism and construe such acts as legal, rather than a violation of the law? In other words, can we invoke freedom of expression when we glorify terrorism or when damaging the reputation of individuals or legal entities?
Oussama Housne did not express an opinion or position on a particular issue, rather he claimed, via the Internet, that he was kidnapped and detained for several hours by unknown individuals, alluding to the fact that they are part of the security services. He further asserted that his affiliation with the February 20th Movement, was the reason for his abduction. This manufactured scenario is an obvious attack on Moroccan authorities.
Wafae Charaf also made similar claims based on a fabricated scenario. She stated that her involvement and participation in a protest founded on supporting workers in Tangiers led to her kidnapping by three individuals who drove a white truck similar to those utilized by law enforcement; highly alluding to the involvement of security services.
What Amnesty International ignores or pretends to ignore is that the Moroccan security services are the instigators of the complaint to the Prosecutor General, requesting an investigation into the statements of both Oussama Housne and Wafae Charaf; to either prosecute the alleged kidnappers, if the facts prove true, or to prosecute the plaintiffs if their purpose is none other than to undermine Morocco’s image and the credibility of the institutions responsible for law enforcement.
The results of the conducted investigation, supported by modern investigative techniques, revealed that at the time of Oussama Housne’s alleged kidnapping he was sitting in a coffee shop, freely using his cell-phone through which he made and received phone calls. The investigation further revealed, via testimonies, recordings and written statements, that it was Wafae Charaf who informed her family members of her alleged abduction scenario, to tarnish Morocco’s image at the international level.
On the other hand, the petition launched by Amnesty International is merely a tactic devoted to putting pressure on judicial authorities, since they took interest in the case report of Oussama Housne prior to his appearance before the Court of Appeal scheduled on March 10, 2015. This methodology, or better yet malevolence tactic, is inconsistent with the missions of non-governmental and civil society organizations, who must refrain from any influence that could impact the competent judicial authorities.
Amnesty International should also be criticized for having erroneously interpreted Article 21 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, claiming that the Article prohibits Moroccan authorities from pursuing any person claiming to have been tortured, even when the accusation is not true. This led to interpretation attempts to depict Morocco as a nation-state that does not abide by its international commitments.
Article 21 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, notes that “No authority or official shall order, apply, permit or tolerate any sanction against any person or organization for having communicated to the national preventive mechanism any information, whether true or false, and no such person or organization shall be otherwise prejudiced in any way”.
This article states that any statement or allegation of torture must be addressed to the national preventive mechanisms against torture, as defined through the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and not circulated on the Internet or via any other social network. This information, as referenced by the Optional Protocol must be confidential, as stated in the second paragraph of Article 21, and should not be utilized as a tool or tactic of defamation against Morocco.
Overall and with specific reference to the case at hand, it appears that Amnesty International is using its legal and illegal arsenal against Morocco. What is important for this organization is to convey a false image of the Kingdom, even when it involves a contradiction of fabricated scenarios.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy