Report: terror suspects in Morocco suffer abuse

AP News
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Posted: Oct 25, 2010 5:26 PM
Report: terror suspects in Morocco suffer abuse

Humans Rights Watch said in a report released Monday that suspects detained under Morocco's counterterrorism laws are routinely subjected to human rights violations.

Morocco's government denied the allegations.

The report quotes suspects picked up under the North African nation's anti-terror laws as saying they were tortured or ill-treated in secret detention centers, where they were held without access to a lawyer _ sometimes for up to five weeks.

"Many of these abuses violate the progressive legislation Morocco adopted to safeguard against torture and illegal detention," the New York-based watchdog said in a statement released with the 56-page-long report.

Morocco, a close ally of the U.S., adopted its current counterterrorism laws days after May, 2003 suicide attacks in Casablanca that killed 45, the statement said.

The report is based in part on interviews with suspects detained between 2007 and 2010 and their families, the statement said.

A "pattern of abuse" emerged from the interviews: First, suspects are detained by plainclothes agents who show no identification and fail to explain the reason for arrest, the statement said. Then, suspects are blindfolded and whisked to a "secret place of detention," where they're often held well beyond the 12-day legal limit.

"Many of those held under those conditions say that they were tortured or ill-treated in detention," the statement said. Then, they're transferred to a "police station, where officers present them with a statement for signature. Only after they have signed do most of them first see a lawyer and are their families first notified of their whereabouts _ sometimes four or five weeks after their arrest."

The report included a response by the Moroccan government to the issues raised in the document. The statement quoted the Moroccan response as saying: "Allegations of torture made to Human Rights Watch by the suspects arrested in 2010 are not credible, since these suspects had the opportunity to lodge such complaints before the general prosecutor or the investigating judge and failed to do so."

The statement also cited other Morocco's rebuttals to other allegations in the report.