Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Morocco: Human Rights Activist Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

(Dec. 4, 2014) On November 27, 2014, the appellate court in the city of Agadir, Morocco, sentenced the Western Saharan rights activist Abdelkhalik el-Markhi to four years in prison. The sentence came on the opening day of the World Forum for Human Rights in Morocco. (Four Years of Imprisonment for the Sahraoui Rights Activist “Abdelkhalik El-markhi,” BADIL.INFO (Nov. 28, 2014; in Arabic); 2nd World Forum on Human Rights Wraps Up in Marrakech, MOROCCO WORLD NEWS (Nov. 30, 2014).)

According to a judicial source, el-Markhi’s defense attorney asked the presiding judge to hear the testimony of the only witness, called Mohammed el-Shoueir, upon whose testimony during the preliminary investigation the indictment rested. The judge refused the request, however, and decided to proceed with the case. The defense then withdrew from the trial in protest at the “intransigent attitude of the judge,” prompting the court to appoint another defense lawyer while el-Markhi insisted on retaining his original defense team. (Four Years of Imprisonment for the Sahraoui Rights Activist “Abdelkhalik El-markhi,” supra.)

El-Markhi was accused of committing the crimes of obstructing the public roads to impede traffic, damaging property dedicated for public use, participating in armed disobedience, and insulting public employees during the carrying out of their official duties. (Id.)

Western Sahara, located on the African coast and bordered by Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, was a Spanish colony until 1976 and has been a disputed area since that time. (Central Intelligence Agency, Africa: Western Sahara, WORLD FACTBOOK (last updated June 19, 2014).)