September 22, 2012 3:41 PM
UN: Torture of activists in Morocco 'systematic'
RABAT, Morocco — Torture is systematic in Morocco for cases involving anti-government demonstrators and those accused of terrorism, a U.N. expert said Saturday after concluding a fact-finding mission in the North African kingdom.
"It appears that there's an increase in occurrences of excessive force when the police or other authorities respond to incidents that involves assembly," he told reporters. "Whether demonstrations are authorized or not, does not give authorities the right to exercise excessive force."
In addition to visiting detention center, Mendez also met with activists and civil society representatives. He said, however, that these meetings often occurred under the surveillance of authorities, resulting in a "climate of oppression."
Morocco, a close Western ally, has presented itself as a model for the region in coping with Arab Spring unrest through reform. While tens of thousands protested in 2011 for greater democracy and less corruption, the protests fizzled after a new constitution was presented and early elections were won by an opposition party.