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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Morocco jails human rights activists
Candlelit vigil outside a prison
Activists want big improvements in Morocco
By David Bamford in Rabat

A court in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, has sentenced 36 members of the Moroccan human rights association, the AMDH, to three months in prison for holding an unauthorised demonstration.


The incident reflects a continuing nervousness by the authorities about any expression of dissent

The move comes less than two months after the AMDH released its annual report on human rights in Morocco.

The report stated - despite promises by the government of reforms - that the situation remained alarming.

The 36 include the AMDH's well-known president, Abderrahmane Benameur, who is a prominent lawyer.

Former opposition parties

They all took part in what observers said was a relatively innocuous sit down protest in front of the parliament last December to mark International Human Rights Day.

King Mohammed VI
Mohammed VI has promised reform
It was broken up by police on the grounds it was unauthorised.

The incident reflects a continuing nervousness by the authorities about any expression of dissent.

Yet the current government is a coalition of former opposition parties, whose leaders were themselves protesting only a few years ago about the government's refusal to reform.

Journalists continue to face regular intimidation. Several have been given prison sentences this year.

And one particular target for the government is the Islamic fundamentalists, over 100 of whom have been sent to prison in the last month for involvement in unauthorised demonstrations.

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08 May 01 | Africa
Morocco prison abuses 'rampant'
05 Mar 00 | Africa
Morocco torture protest
31 Jul 99 | Africa
Morocco frees prisoners
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