AI Index: MDE 29/002/2011
Date: 15 April 2011
Morocco royal pardon an encouraging step
Amnesty International has welcomed yesterday’s pardon of prisoner of conscience Chekib El-Khiari, jailed in June 2009 for speaking out against corruption. The organization has further welcomed yesterday’s bailing of three Sahrawi human rights activists, who had been detained since October 2009 but called on the charges against them to be dropped.
Amnesty International has expressed its hope that these releases would signal a relaxing of the “red lines” on criticism of the authorities and the question of Western Sahara which human rights activists have traditionally been forbidden to cross rather than a measure to pacify protesters calling for reform in Morocco and Western Sahara.
Chekib El-Khiari had been serving a three-year sentence, following his conviction on 24 June 2009 of undermining or insulting public institutions and violating a 1949 regulation on exchange control. Amnesty International considered the charges to be politically-motivated, and linked to his allegations that high-ranking Moroccan officials had been involved in a drug-trafficking ring.