By Sidi Ahmed Abdala
On 17 July 2014, Housine Laamash told members of AdalaUK that he was tortured whilst in police custody in the occupied city of Boujduir in Western Sahara. He explained how he had been threatened with rape and how we was forced to sign a confession that he wasn’t even allowed to read. He went on to explain how the police officers shoved a urine-soaked sponge into his face, forced him to remove his trousers, hit him and interrogated him whilst his wrists were bound. Housine had cuts and bruises over his whole body. Housine is 17 years old.
In every recent use of excessive violence by the Moroccan security forces to break up a peaceable demonstration against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara it has seemed that there is now an intense campaign targeted at children and young people.
The use of torture and other means of maltreatment are expressly prohibited and have been considered a crime in Moroccan law for many years. In practice, however, they persist. Judges and public prosecutors don’t investigate reports of torture and other maltreatment, so the perpetrators never have to account for their actions. The resulting impunity counteracts the deterrent that the law against torture can have.
Morocco has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which covers all people under the age of 18. The Convention explicitly prevents the use of torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Through the detention and incarceration of people under 18 for suspected crimes, the Moroccan authorities are displaying total disregard for their international obligations on the subject of human rights.
The Moroccan government declares its commitment to respecting human rights but it seems clear that it habitually and shamelessly fails to comply to its international obligations, resorting instead to the use of extreme measures