The NOVACT delegate in Morocco has been deported

Lire la déclaration ici en français

The NOVACT delegate in Morocco has been deported because of the organization’s work promoting human rights in the country

For over two years the International Institute for Nonviolent Action has been promoting human rights in Morocco and the Maghreb. This work has been financed by the main international cooperation agencies, including the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development, the European Union, the United Nations and the Barcelona City Council. Novact also works with Moroccan charities defending human rights, mainly concerned with freedom of speech, civil and political rights, health rights and individual liberties.

NOVACT considers that the expulsion of its delegate in Morocco is indicative of a considerable decline in respect for human rights and basic freedoms in Morocco. We would like to emphasize:

(1) For several months, human rights defence organizations in the country have been suffering arbitrary interferences at their offices, and unjustified restrictions on meetings, among other violations of civil and social rights.

(2) Articles 489 and 490 of the current Moroccan Criminal Code penalize sexual intercourse outside marriage and establish punishments of up to three years imprisonment and fines of 1000 MAD (about €90) for whoever commits “acts against nature with individuals of the same sex”. In the current government project to reform this code, this penalty will not be removed; on the contrary, the fines will be multiplied by twenty. The application of Article 489 is a clear violation of people’s rights to decide about their own life and of the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights, endorsed by Morocco in 1979.

The arrest and expulsion of our delegate is just another chapter in this institutional campaign of repression of organizations and social movements that defend human rights.

Last Wednesday at half past six in the afternoon, she was identified and arrested by three plain-clothes policemen waiting for her at her home. After several hours of interrogation, she was then expelled from the country. The Moroccan Ministry of the Interior has informed that her papers were not in order, referring to her activity as a member of NOVACT and its defense of civil and social rights as “non-authorized actions […] which support immoral causes”.

On 22nd May, when she was heading to the airport for a business trip to Barcelona, she was also held for a couple of hours, and she was informed of an expulsion order which never became official. On 1st June she went back to Rabat without any problems at the border.

NOVACT:

  • CONDEMNS the expulsion of our delegate.
  • EMPHASIZES that the conditions of the detention and expulsion were inappropriate, resulting in a violation of a Spanish citizen’s rights in a foreign country, violating her right to legal and diplomatic assistance. The procedure of the expulsion was irregular and infringed the guarantees of procedure as well as those of protection: she wasn’t notified of her expulsion until she was in fact deported, and she hasn’t had the opportunity to appeal against this decision and its motives, or demand a review by the authorities; neither has she had a reasonable period of time to prepare her departure from the country; during her expulsion she was treated in an undignified way, and without consideration for being a woman. It is of great concern that, even though the Spanish Embassy and Consulate in Rabat have shown interest in the case, the Moroccan authorities have refused any type of diplomatic assistance. This irregularity is common in Morocco. In 2004 the Special Relator of United Nations for Migrant Rights in Morocco examined this procedure while he was visiting the country and recommended its revision, also offering training to public employees responsible for deportations.
  • URGES the international community, and in particular the Spanish government, to defend the legitimacy of NOVACT actions and those of NGOs that defend human rights in Morocco. NOVACT actions must be understood as an integral component of foreign policy in a country where human rights are frequently violated.