Relentless harassment of Moroccan human rights organisation
On 20th February 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW), reported on the repeated harassment of a local Moroccan CSO, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). As previously reported in the CIVICUS Monitor, activists affiliated with AMDH have been persecuted for their open criticism of Moroccan authorities. The AMDH is the largest independent human rights CSO in Morocco, with 96 local branches across the country. A number of the organisation's branches have reported that the authorities purposefully withhold receipts after the branches have submitted the required periodic documentation. CSOs in Morocco are legally obligated to submit regular documentation to authorities in order to fully operate in the country, and thus without receipts, the branches are unable to carry out many basic functions, such as bank transactions. The authorities' have purposefully sabotaged civil society's ability to comply with domestic legislation as well as implement their activities.
In addition, the HRW report cited the authorities' two-year campaign against the organisation, prohibiting and obstructing AMDH's activities. In 2016, the AMDH documented 26 events in total that the government had prevented from taking place. In many cases, AMDH meetings, conferences or lectures were unjustifiably blocked without prior written notice to the organisers.
In a separate event on 20th February 2017, over one thousand people marked the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring protests by marching in Rabat. The 2011 protests, otherwise known as the February 20th Movement in Morocco, called for constitutional reform and, at their height, drew tens of thousands of citizens to the streets in towns and cities across Morocco. The February 20th Movement became known for its broad base of support, drawing activists from across the political spectrum.
At the recent anniversary protest, activists gathered to reflect on Morocco's lack of progress since 2011, with many calling upon on the government to end corruption, provide better housing and improve employment opportunities. On protester commented on the situation:
"Many things have changed [in the past six years], but not in essence. The constitution failed to fulfill the major demand of the movement, the transition from an executive monarchy to a true parliamentary monarchy. For this reason, protesters have continued to march. The February 20 Movement's demands are very much still alive.'
While the 2011 movement initially enjoyed an extraordinarily diverse base of support, it is now thought to have split into factions following ideological differences in opinion. There are no reports of the protest turning violent.