The statement comes amid public outrage over the violent dispersal of a teacher’s protest in Rabat
Rabat – Morocco’s National Human Rights Council (CDNH) is calling on security forces to follow the law when dispersing demonstrations. The violence witnessed at a March 16 protest by teachers in Rabat shocked the nation after some law enforcement officials used heavy-handed methods to disperse the crowd.
The CDNH did not explicitly name the police in its statement but instead stressed “the importance of the application of the law in connection with the principles of necessity and proportionality during the dispersal of demonstrations.”
The human rights council added that the “public freedoms and the right to peacefully protest” must be protected.
Morocco’s law enforcement officials have come under national scrutiny for their role in the dispersal of protests this week. Local security forces enforced a ban on protests as part of COVID-19 measures, but did so through violent intervention against the protestors.
Teachers in Rabat were protesting against poor labor conditions by staging a sit-in protest outside the Ministry of Education and the national parliament. Protests by Morocco’s teachers are common over issues such as pay disputes, contracts, and working conditions.
Footage of the heavy-handed intervention by riot police spread rapidly online and the hashtag “#protect_teachers_in_morocco” started trending on popular social media platforms. Citizens decried the heavy-handed intervention by police against peaceful protesters as they broke up the protest near the old Medina in Morocco’s capital Rabat.
Images spread online of a civilian, as well as the police, beating teachers against the backdrop of Rabat’s old city sparked outrage.
Local officials responded by launching an investigation, with a particular focus on the male civilian who was filmed repeatedly kicking protesters.
The investigation led to his arrest on Friday, March 19. Still, Many in Morocco called for police who witnessed and participated in the violence to be similarly investigated.
Police forces around the world are increasingly facing criticism because of heavy-handed interventions against protests during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dutch, British and German police have all faced accusations of violence against protesters over the past week.