Morocco’s leading rights group on Thursday condemned what it termed the “regression of human rights” and a growing number of political detainees in the North African state.
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), in a report covering 2017 and part of this year, deplored “the repression of several social movements”, especially the Hirak protest group in the marginalised Rif region of northern Morocco.
The total number of people detained or on wanted lists because of “critical opinions” or “activities within protest movements” in the Rif and other regions has risen to over 1 020, AMDH said.
In June, Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi was handed a 20-year jail term along with three others for “plotting to undermine the security of the state”.
The Rif protests of 2016-2017 began when fisherman Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish truck, apparently as he tried to retrieve swordfish seized by authorities.
Subsequent unrest in the Rif, where the marginalised Berber ethnic group is the majority, focused on social issues as demonstrators demanded jobs and development.
The protests left more than 600 wounded among security forces personnel and caused $736 000 in damages, according to Moroccan authorities.