Morocco’s DGAPR said in a statement that it would bring imprisoned Hirak activists closer to their families and homes in northern Morocco.
Rabat – Morocco is relocating the Hirak prisoners to prisons in their native northern Morocco, after mass protests over the activists’ losing their appeal of their heavy prison sentences last week.
The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) announced the transfer in a statement Thursday, April 11.
DGAPR stated that it intends to bring the activists from Oukacha prison in Casablanca to prisons closer to their homes and families in Morocco’s northern Rif region. It stated this is part of a plan “to preserve prisoners’ family and social ties.”
The general delegation said the criteria it has adopted are based on the length of the prisoners’ sentences, though there are exceptional cases.
On April 5, the Casablanca Court of Appeals upheld the sentences of 54 prisoners, ranging from 1 to 20 years in prison terms, on charges of “attacks on the internal and external security of the state, violence with premeditation,” and “disturbing public order.”
On April 3, 24 members of the European Parliament a member of the Council of Europe addressed a letter to Morocco’s Minister of Justice Mohamed Aujjar, calling on him to free the Hirak prisoners.
The MEPs raised concerns over “the suffering of the activists’ families.”
“The families of the prisoners have made us aware of the suffering of attending the court in Casablanca, which is 600 kilometers away from their homes and which has already lasted 18 months.”
The MEPs also raised concerns over the “deteriorating” health of Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi, a statement that Morocco’s National Human Rights Council has denied.
In protest, Nasser Zefzafi sewed his lips after the Casablanca Court of Appeals upheld his 20-year sentence on April 5.
The Hirak protests erupted in October 2016 in the wake of the tragic death of Mohcine Fikri, a fishmonger, who was crushed to death in a garbage truck, allegedly on orders from a policeman. The man was killed when attempting to retrieve his merchandise, which the police had confiscated.