MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Moroccan authorities Friday to stop blocking the efforts of advocacy groups, a practice that has recently become commonplace in the country.
"Morocco was once abuzz with independent human rights activities but authorities have lately been blocking activities right and left that some of the most critical groups have tried to organize," HRW Director for the Middle East and North Africa Sarah Leah Whitson said in the statement published on the organization's website.
"Morocco should stop arbitrarily impeding the peaceful activities of the country's independent human rights groups and allow them to operate freely," the statement urged.
According to the watchdog, since this July Morocco has banned 15 meetings that the Moroccan Human Rights Association had planned across the country. The authorities have also denied venues to Amnesty International and other organizations for various events.
Human Rights Watch notes that the blocking of the gatherings came after Moroccan Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad voiced accusations that advocacy groups unjustifiably criticized the Moroccan security forces for human rights abuses thus damaging "Morocco's image and security."
In its previous report, Human Rights Watch slammed Morocco for human rights violations by noting in particular that the authorities undermined peaceful protests despite "strong" human rights provisions included in the country's constitution in 2011. The organization also said the Moroccan authorities have unfairly imprisoned people for acts deemed harmful to the king, the monarchy or Islam.