Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rights groups call on Morocco to free or retry civilians convicted in military courts

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, and the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations have issued a joint statement calling on the Moroccan government to free or retry 21 protesters from Western Sahara. The 21 had been tried in military court before Morocco changed its law to bar military trial of civilians.

According to this HRW report:
Trying civilians in military courts violates international human rights norms, the groups said. Moreover, Moroccan law denies defendants in military trials a full appeals trial, as civilian court trials would have. Military trial defendants can appeal only to the Cassation Court, which reviews errors of procedure, jurisdiction, abuse of power, or application of the law. The Cassation Court has had the petition from the Gdeim Izik defendants since March 2013 but has not ruled on it. 
A law that took effect in July revised Morocco’s military justice law to remove civilian defendants from the jurisdiction of military courts. The new law does not mention the judicial status of civilians imprisoned by military courts before it entered into effect.

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