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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Moroccans suffer from terror war
Bomb debris
Anti-terror laws were strengthened after the Casablanca bombings
The war on terror is undermining Morocco's progress in promoting human rights, says a US lobby group.

A new Human Rights Watch report says that more than 2,000 suspected Islamic militants have been arrested since last year's Casablanca suicide bombings.

Many have been subjected to threats and abuse, the group says.

Human Rights Watch urges the US and the European Union to integrate human rights into their growing security co-operation with Morocco.

'Despicable attacks'

The group also urges western countries not to extradite terror suspects to Morocco unless the authorities there provides verifiable guarantees that they will not be tortured or otherwise abused.

Unless authorities fight extremist violence in a way that is consistent with... human rights, the rights of all Moroccans are at risk
Sarah Leah Whitson
Human Rights watch

"Detainees are on a fast-track to conviction because prosecutors and judges show little interest in how the police obtained their statements," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's executive director for the Middle East and North Africa Division.

"Their treatment shows that the human rights advances in Morocco have largely bypassed the courts."

Anti-terror legislation was strengthened shortly after the Casablanca bombings, which introduced a "sweeping" definition of terrorism, Human Rights Watch says.

Terror suspects can now be held for 12 days before they have to be presented to a judge and 10 days before they consult a lawyer.

Ms Whitson says that the 16 May 2003 marked "despicable attacks on innocent civilians".

"But unless authorities fight extremist violence in a way that is consistent with their public commitment to human rights, the rights of all Moroccans are at risk."

In pictures: Casablanca blasts
17 May 03  |  Photo Gallery

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