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Morocco: Amnesty International calls for urgent action to release former Human Rights Minister Mohamed Ziane

International human rights organization Amnesty International has called for urgent action to release Moroccan lawyer and former human rights minister, Mohamed Ziane, who has been imprisoned since November 21, 2022 and is celebrating his 80th birthday today on Tuesday.

In a tweet, Amnesty International stated that “On November 21, 2022, security forces arrested lawyer Mohamed Ziane and imprisoned him after the Court of Appeal in Rabat upheld his three-year imprisonment sentence in absentia.”

The organization stated that there is no link between him and the 11 charges against him, including false charges of insulting public officials and institutions. As for the charge of sexual assault, which is the only charge recognized under international law, it should be dealt with in the context of fair trial procedures that meet international standards.

On February 6, the human rights organization sent an urgent letter to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch regarding the actions it called for in the case of former human rights minister and lawyer Mohamed Ziane, demanding his release.

Amnesty International called for dropping all charges against Ziane and dealing with them within fair trial procedures that meet international standards, calling on all those interested in participating in the campaign to demand the release of the former minister to send a copy of their correspondence to the address of the government’s headquarters in Rabat.

In this context, Hassan Benajah, a leader in the Justice and Development Party, renewed his solidarity with the former human rights minister and called for his immediate release “without conditions or restrictions”.

Benajah affirmed in media statements that the arrest of Ziane “is rejected and arbitrary by all standards…politically, his arrest is part of a series of arrests targeting people for their opinions, which is inconsistent with the democratic slogans raised by the government. From a legal perspective, this arrest is arbitrary and the case is fabricated like other ongoing cases, as his trial lacked all the conditions for a fair trial.”

From his part, blogger and human rights, Reda Taoujni, said: “For the thousandth time, I condemn the arrest of Ziane, and if we were in a state of law and justice, he should now be with his children and grandchildren, fighting for his rights, not in prison,” expressing “absolute” solidarity with the prisoner Ziane.

It is worth noting that the former Minister of Human Rights has completed today, Tuesday, his 80th year, making him the oldest prisoner of opinion in the world. The arrest of Mohamed Ziane and his imprisonment has sparked angry reactions and strong criticisms against the policy of arbitrariness and “muzzling of voices” pursued by the Makhzen regime and its use of the judiciary as a “weapon of revenge and intimidation.”

The Court of Appeal had upheld the initial sentence against him, which sentenced him to three years in prison on the basis of a lawsuit filed against him by the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior.

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