The National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) in Morroco, in a report on the protests that had erupted in Jerada in 2017, called for respecting the right to peaceful protests and demanded launching an investigation on the wounded protesters during the March 14 protests. It also demanded that the investigation’s results be published, stressing the need to review the code of criminal procedure and the texts relevant to it.
The report also considered the ban on unauthorized protests or those that no organized group had given notice of to violate the right to peaceful protest. The Council also demanded the criminalization of illegitimate use of violence to guarantee freedom of expression and assembly and the right to peaceful protest, as well as implementing pressing economic and social housing demands.
Concerning trials of detainees, the report revealed that detainees said that they had signed judicial police reports without having read them, and some disputed Royal Gendarmerie records of their confessions, as they had not signed the reports presented to the court, but the statements recorded in the statement book only.
According to the Council’s report, the court’s verdict relied heavily on judicial police reports, which include the accused’s confessions and judicial police inspection reports indicating detainees’ participation in the protests despite the authorities’ ban decision and photos and videos of the protests and the statements of a number of victims, as well as health statements given by the victims.
Concerning the trials, the Council reiterated its call for the need to review the code of criminal procedure and strengthening the defense’s pre-trial role, through its presence in the preliminary research stage and the incorporation of the right to appeal all decisions that involve the deprivation of liberty, especially pre-trial detention.
The Council issued a statement explaining that the report, Written between December 2019 and February 2020, aims to monitor, track, and record the events and evaluate their effects on rights and freedoms, based on the international conventions ratified by Morocco and the county’s constitutional and legislative safeguards. It takes a human rights approach to the proposals it submits on how to address the Jerada protests’ demands and prevent the recurrence of similar incidents and drawing conclusions to prevent their recurrence in similar contexts.
The Jerada incident erupted after two brothers died while extracting coal in an informal mine, spurring demonstrations and marches demanding better living conditions and job opportunities for the city’s residents.
For her part, the Council’s president, Amina Bouayach says that protests should have been an opportunity to think about building a proactive national strategy for managing economic, social, and environmental transformations in the city of Jerada and similar areas in such a way that makes the moving into a post-mining phase inevitable.