CNDH and its president Amina Bouayach have been receiving heavy criticism since her statement last year that Hirak Rif prisoners are not political detainees.
Rabat – Since the arrest of Hirak Rif detainees in the Al Hoceima province in 2017 and 2018, Moroccan institutions have been receiving heavy criticism.
Rights groups and activists rallied several times after a court delivered sentences ranging from 1 to 20 years in prison to Hirak activists.
In response to the protests, Morocco’s National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) released a report on the Hirak Rif.
The CNDH president, Amina Bouayach, presented the report on Sunday, March 8, during a press conference at the council’s headquarters.
Bouayach faced criticism for the 400-page report, which was an attempt to examine the Hirak Rif from a human rights perspective.
The report described the demonstrations as occurring in three phases. The first phase began in October 2016 after the death of Mohcine Fikri, the local fishmonger who was crushed in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve his confiscated goods.
Fikri’s pushed citizens in the Al Hoceima province to protest against the social inequalities in the region.
Bouayach’s report said the first phase, from October 2016 to March of 2017, was a period of peaceful protests.
Security services were barely present at demonstrations during the first phase, she added.
The second phase heated up as clashes between protesters and police took place, notably when demonstrators threw rocks at security services.
Protests descended into “severe violence” during the third phase, Bouayach continued, as protesters burned a residence that sheltered Al Hoceima police.
After explaining the various periods of the Hirak Rif popular movement, the CNDH report concurred with the judiciary charges against the prominent leader of the protests, Nasser Zefzafi.
Al Hoceima police arrested Zefzafi, who led several protests in the region, after he disrupted a Friday sermon and insulted a local imam.
The judiciary system condemned Zefzafi for undermining the security of the country and inciting people to join protests.
CNDH maintained in its report that places of worship should be respected, arguing that Zefzafi violated the freedoms of the imam and worshippers at the mosque.
“If Zefzafi had expressed his opinion or criticism outside the mosque, it would have been protected,” the report stated.
Acknowledging deficiencies in controlling the protests, CNDH criticized officials for not visiting the region until six months of protests.
The document added, however, that some of the Hirak movement’s demands were unorganized.
Commenting on the protestors’ slogans and speeches, the CNDH maintained some were in line with freedom of speech rights while others contained hatred and violent content.
The report said that there are more than 3 million posts on social media about the Rif protests, of which 10,000 share hatred and violent content.
The CNDH assured that these posts are not created from within Morocco and reflect only 19% of the realities of Hirak Rif.
The final part of the report includes 63 conclusions and 32 recommendations.
The conclusions address the chronology of the protests, the attacks on the freedoms of belief, the allegations of torture and violence, the publications on social networks, and the council’s interactions with the detainees and their families.