On 28 February Kati Piri, Dutch S&D MEP will organize the first large-scale conference on the topic of the dire situation in the Rif region (Morocco) in the European Parliament. The event will be attended by some 400 citizens of Moroccan origin from The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Spain. The speakers include the father of imprisoned protest leader Nasser Zefzafi and lawyer Abdessadik Elbouchattoui, who himself was convicted for 20 months of jail while defending the protest leaders.
Piri: “The EU has so far turned a blind eye to the dire situation in the Rif-region. Regrettably, no serious efforts have yet been made to raise the concerns about human rights abuses with the Moroccan authorities. Morocco is a neighbouring country and a privileged partner of the EU – that also implies an honest dialogue on the rule of law and basic rights of all citizens. The EU must be crystal clear in it’s demand to free all political prisoners.”
The latest Frontex figures and data published by UNHCR, show that the situation in Northern Morocco also affects the European Union. The largest group of asylum seekers arriving in Spain in 2017 were Moroccans.
“If we continue turning a blind eye to the situation in Morocco, the number of asylum seekers from that region will further increase. The lesson learnt from the 2015 refugee crisis, is that we must effectively address the root causes. Therefore, the EU must put the human rights situation in Morocco at the top of its agenda.”
In order to address these concerns with the Moroccan authorities and to make themselves more familiar with the situation in Morocco, PvdA former Minister for Development, Dutch MP Lilianne Ploumen and MEP Kati Piri will visit Rabat and Al Hoceima in April.
About the situation in the Rif-region.
The gruesome death of fisherman Mohsen Fikri sparked wide-scale and sustained protests demanding social justice in the Northern Rif region in Morocco. Months of demonstrations were followed by mass arrests of peaceful protestors. More than one thousand people were arrested by security forces, including children, and some hundreds remain in jail today. Courts have already convicted many protestors, sentencing them up to 20 years imprisonment.