Call on the King of Morocco to protect the physical integrity of Mr. El Khayari and to ensure his immediate and unconditional release.

published Monday 23 February 2009 10:27, by encod . update Monday 23 February 2009 16:06

His Majesty King Mohammed VI

Herewith we would like to express our deep concern with the fate of Chakib El-Khayari, who has been held in custody of the National Bureau of the Judicial Police of Casablanca since 17 February 2009.

Mr.El-Khayari is a well-known and respected human rights defender in the province of Nador and internationally. He has founded the Association of Human Rights in the Rif in 2005 which addresses a number of issues such as the treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in Morocco and violence against women. Chekib El-Khiari is also known for his support of the cultural rights of the Amazigh in Morocco. In December 2008, he appeared on national Moroccan television discussing his views and opinions on a number of issues related to drug-trafficking in the region, the involvement and corruption of some public officials, and the need for non-repressive strategies to reduce the harms of illicit cannabis cultivation in the region.

In the coming weeks Mr. El Khayari is supposed to visit Europe, invited by the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, a platform of 170 civil society organisations from the whole of Europe. On March 4, Mr. El Khayari will participate in a Conference in the European Parliament, where European Union policies towards cultivation of illicit plants will be discussed. On March 11 and 12, he is supposed to take part in the High Level Segment of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, as a member of an international delegation of NGO’s that will bring forward evidence that policies aimed at erradicating illicit plants in producer countries have caused more harms than solutions to the affected regions.

We fear that Chakib El-Khayari is being targeted due to his outspokenness on human rights issues and his anti-corruption activities in the region of Nador. We consider his arrest as a serious violation of the freedom of expression, a human right that should be guaranteed in every democracy. The fact that he has been arrested just prior to his participation in international events seems to indicate that the Moroccan government doesn’t want the world to hear the views of a population that is directly affected by harmful policies carried out in the name of the war on drugs.

In order to establish effective sustainable policies towards cannabis cultivation and drug trafficking in Morocco, it is crucial that views like those of Mr. El Khayari and other legimitate representatives of affected populations are heard. Solutions to the problems related to cannabis cultivation in Morocco can only be found through a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions, not through repression.

We call on you to protect the physical integrity of Mr. El Khayari and to ensure his immediate and unconditional release.

Waiting for your response, Your Majesty, we remain,

Sincerely yours.

On behalf of ENCOD,

André Fürst, Switzerland
Jan Ludewig, Germany
Virginia Montañes, Spain
Joep Oomen, Belgium
Freek Polak, Netherlands
Posted by Paul von Hartmann, USA

See www.encod.org for more information.

1. http://www.encod.org/info/LETTER-TO-THE-KING-OF-MOROCCO-ON.html