Morocco and Western Sahara

For my Ethics and International Human Rights exam which is tomorrow I had to do a Human Rights report on a country of my choice, since I have family in Morocco, I decided to pick that as my country of choice.

I’ve been to Morocco a few times and I’ve always thought Morocco as being a very forward country. From my experience it doesn’t live up to the stereotype everyone gives to Arab country. Women can wear what they want, women can drive, the country is in economic growth, the list goes on. So when starting this human rights report on Morocco I thought it would be very easy and I would have very little to say.

There was 4 main things that I discovered about Morocco which I was in shock about.

  1. Border Control issues – 

    in 2006 there was repeated offences made by Morocco and Spain at their border. They both treated illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in terrible ways. Sometimes shooting them from a very close distance for no reason. Putting up barbed wire on the fences which protect the border, which have actually resulted in killing a man. There was also a case reported by Amnesty International which said that a group of people who tried to get into Spain, were caught by Moroccan authority, put in a van, thrown into the desert and were told to walk into Algeria and go to the nearest town that way! The group included children and a pregnant women! And to top it all off, some people had UN approved refugee status but the Moroccan authorities discarded them!  – I was absolutely shocked by this news, and I sincerely hope that they no longer carry on these acts now.

  2. Cartoons and articles about Kings health – in 2008 a journalist was found guilty of  “offences against the person of the King or his family or for undermining the monarchy”. As a budding journalist, and having studied extensively in our human rights freedom of expression I feel like Morocco could do so much better than this.  What got this journalist arrested, was am image of Prince Ismail, and an article about the Kings health. To me that doesn’t seem like a serious breach of privacy and I am just rather disappointed that Morocco had such strict rules against free speech.
  3. Women’s Rights 

    As I’ve said I’ve been to Morocco and I’ve always felt that women have gained their rights and I do feel like an equal when I am visiting Morocco. I’ve seen Morocco women where what they want, I’ve seen them work and not just in low job positions. To me it always seems like Morocco has done great with gaining women’s rights, but I have learnt that is not TOTALLY true. In the Global Gender Gap Report Morocco was placed 129 out of 135! And this was after over 41,000 girls under the age of 18 got married in 2010! I thought this was incredible! But i find it very hard to believe when I’m actually there, so I will not listen to this statistics too strictly.

  4. Western Sahara – 

    Lastly and probably most importantly, it’s the whole issue of Western Sahara. Western Sahara is directly below Morocco, Morocco sees Western Sahara as part of its country as just another region, whereas the majority of the world sees Western Sahara as another country. The land there is basically a waste land, where the people are stuck in a half country state. There is a camp in the border of Algeria called Tindouf where most of the people live. Now not only do these people not have the living conditions they deserve, but this situation is also affecting journalists. Journalists have been imprisoned or had to pay fines due to believing that Western Sahara should gain its independence. Morocco sees any statement claiming that they should have their independent as an offence and undermining the internal affairs of the state. I however am unsure about this. Is it really Morocco’s fault, or is it Algeria causing the fight that’s happening. It’s a hard to tell what is happening without actually having ever been there. So I will be keeping my eye out on new cases.

Those were the main points that I identified that’s happened with Morocco in the last 6 years. The main point I would love to see happen would be to see Morocco relax about their freedom of speech and allow more debate in the society. I think this would greatly help Morocco in achieving a more liberal feel to it. But that might just be my internal journalist talking now :P

What do you think about Morocco’s  Human Rights?




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