Morocco’s Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid expressed hope that Nasser Zefzafi would not serve his full 20-year prison term.
Rabat – In Morocco’s state-owned channel 2M’s televised “Hadith Ma’a Al-Sahafa” (Discussion with the Press) program, Morocco’s Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid stated on Sunday, April 14, that it is unlikely that Nasser Zefzafi, a leader of the Hirak mass protests, will serve his full 20-year prison term.
Even if the activists appeal their case again, this time to the Court of Cassation, and lost their case there, Ramid expects that Zefzafi will not have to complete his prison term.
Ramid expressed his optimism at “the wise approach Morocco usually takes,” noting that the King has given royal pardons to more than 280 people arrested in relation to the Hirak movement.
Commenting that Morocco has conducted serious trials throughout its history, prosecutors have tried some people for serious criminal offences, Ramid said that after offenders “made self-criticisms,” the state received them “well.”
Ramid hoped that there would be “detente” regarding the Hirak Rif trials. He had posted earlier on Facebook that Morocco’s judicial system is independent, “irrespective of my or others’ opinions, which is also right.”
Ramid asserted that the government did not arrest and convict the Hirak activists on the grounds of “public rights offences” or because they were protesting for social justice, but on political grounds relating to state security offences.
Omar Balafrej, a politician with the Federation of the Democratic Left (FDG), who has been calling for a general amnesty of all Hirak prisoners, said in an interview with Moroccan news outlet Achkayen that political parties are not exercising their power over the Hirak prisoners’ sentences.
There is a big difference between actually exercising their power and simply making statements to the public, Balafrej said, calling justice in the Hirak case “absurd.” He argued, “If these parties are unwilling to take action on the matter, they have to declare so publicly.”
He added, “They justified their inaction by waiting until the Court of Appeals issued its ruling. Now that it ruled, there is no excuse left for them.”
In June 2018, the Criminal Chamber of the Casablanca Court of Appeals sentenced 54 Hirak activists to prison terms varying from one to 20 years. The Casablanca Court of Appeals upheld the ruling on April 5, 2019.
It was the death of Mohcine Fikri which sparked the Hirak Rif mass protests in the northern Amazigh (Berber) region of Morocco in 2016 and 2017. Fikri was crushed in a garbage truck while he was attempting to retrieve his confiscated merchandise. Riffians protested for months afterwards, flooding the streets of Al Hoceima and demanding social justice.