U.S. Should Urge King Mohammed VI to Enact Real Reforms
November 21, 2013
During their scheduled meeting on November 22, President Barack Obama should press Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to live up to his promises of reform by guaranteeing all Moroccans and inhabitants of the Western Sahara the rights of freedom of expression, assembly and the press.
While the king has emphasized his reform strategy as a key to stability, many of his proposed reforms have not been enacted, and there are frequent lapses in the protection of human rights.
Moroccans have been jailed for taking part in pro-democracy protests since 2011 and Islamists and those advocating for a free, sovereign Western Sahara also risk arrest. Anti-defamation laws allow police to arrest anyone criticizing the King, Islam, and Moroccan claims to the Western Sahara. Police frequently use violent tactics to end peaceful protests and use torture to garner confessions.
Ali Anouzla, a prominent journalist, faces charges of “aiding” terrorism for reporting on an Al-Qaeda propaganda video that criticizes the king. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in jail.