Rabat - Morocco’s human rights minister has slammed criticisms of his handling of the Hirak activists’ trials, claiming that full responsibility lies with the attorney general.
Rabat – Morocco’s human rights minister has slammed criticisms of his handling of the Hirak activists’ trials, claiming that full responsibility lies with the attorney general.
The minister was reacting to allegations by Mohamed Ziane, Zefzafi’s lawyer, who in an interview with France 24 said that Ramid bore some responsibility for the arrest and the severe sentences handed to Zefzafi and his fellow activists.
On June 26, a Casablanca court handed down prison sentences ranging from one to twenty years to 53 Hirak protestors, including the movement’s leader Nasser Zefzafi. The court’s decision was greeted by a wave of condemnations both in Morocco and abroad, all slamming the mass trial as “politicized” and “unfair.”
Ramid, who was minister of justice and liberties when the Hirak Rif protest movement erupted in 2016, has been among the most criticized government officials over the Hirak trials.
According to Ramid, he had left his post as justice minister by the time the court launched the legal investigations into the Hirak protests, including arrests and trials.
The minister noted that the legal procedures such the ones witnessed in the Hirak dossier are the responsibility of the attorney general, not the government or the Ministry of Justice.
Ramid’s response to Ziane’s accusations is his second comment this week on the Hirak dossier.
In an earlier post in response to King Mohammed VI’s decision to pardon an unknown number (160-188 prisoners, depending on the report) of Hirak-linked prisoners, Ramid asserted that “the government is genuinely willing to definitely close the Hirak dossier.”
If Zefzafi and the other Hirak activists “act wisely and clear-sightedly, this dossier will be soon closed, because there is no desire on the government’s part to take revenge,” Ramid said.
Morocco’s human rights records have been a contentious topic in recent months. The Hirak mass trial has particularly attracted international interest, prompting many of the country’s “strategic allies” to draw attention to human rights issues in dealing with Moroccan authorities.
During a confirmation hearing on Thursday, August 23, David Fischer, nominated to serve as US ambassador to Morocco, responded to concerns about the Hirak activists’ sentences, saying that human rights issues remain a concern in Morocco despite the government’s “significant efforts” to improve.