Raids on Migrants in Morocco: The End of a Promising Policy?

Press release
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Brussels, 19 February 2015: The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) strongly condemn the mass arrests of over 1,200 individuals in northern Morocco. Our organisations call for an immediate end to such arbitrary, abusive and illegal practices and for respect of the human rights of all individuals regardless of their status.

A wave of mass arrests and collective deportation attempts was launched following the Moroccan authorities’ announcement on 19 February 2015, putting a sudden end to the regularisation process that started in January 2014.

Our organisations regret the end of this promising process and join their members and partners in Morocco to condemn the police raids in Gourougou Forest, Nador and Tangiers, which led to the violent arrest of thousands of individuals, including asylum seekers, holders of residence permits, and families with children. 1,250 migrants in an irregular situation were also arrested in contravention of the procedural safeguards enshrined in Law n°02–03 relative to the entry and stay of foreigners in Morocco and to irregular emigration and immigration, and in breach of Morocco’s international obligations.

Those arrested have been moved to different cities and at least 450 individuals are still detained without legal proceedings in various camps across the Moroccan territory, in police stations, and even in homeless shelters.

The raids put into question the Moroccan authorities’ ability to keep their political commitments and to implement "a humanitarian approach in compliance with our country’s international commitments and which is respectful of the rights of immigrants", announced by the king in late 2013.

Our organisations denounce the absence of any form of procedural safeguards, the practice of arbitrary detention, the attempt to collectively deport these individuals (at least ten countries of destination are involved) and the total absence of access to these individuals for NGOs and lawyers.

Our organisations remind the authorities that procedural safeguards apply to all individuals, regardless of their status, and that illegal residence on Moroccan soil does not justify the violation of fundamental rights and procedures as provided by Moroccan law.

EMHRN and FIDH call for an immediate end to these operations, the immediate release of those detained and a thorough judicial review of the individual circumstances of each person targeted during the operation.

Finally, our organisations express their astonishment and regret the unexpected announcement of the end of the regularisation process that seems to rule out any possibility of examining first instance cases that have not yet been examined.

We urge the parties to the National Monitoring and Appeals Committee, and in particular the Ministry of the Interior, to resume dialogue and enable the Committee to carry out its mission of examining applications rejected at first instance by the Office of Foreigners put in place in January 2014.

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