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North Africa: Moroccan Human Rights and Drug Policy Activist to Remain Behind Bars

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #610)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

A Morrocan appeals court Tuesday rejected the appeal of a human rights activist who had publicly criticized the country's drug policy and was subsequently jailed for offending the authorities and alleged currency violations. That means Chakib El Khayari will continue to serve a three-year sentence handed down in June.

Chakib El Khayari
El Khayari heads a human rights group in the Rif Mountains, where marijuana growing has been a way of life for centuries. He had criticized inequities in the Moroccan government's crackdown on the cannabis industry there. El Khayari repeatedly told international conferences and foreign media outlets that he questioned the government's record on marijuana eradication and interdiction. He accused authorities of turning a blind eye to hashish smuggling to Europe while focusing their repressive efforts on poor farmers.

Prosecutors accused him of taking a bribe to focus a media campaign on some traffickers and not others. They also accused him of depositing money in foreign banks without approval from the country's Exchange Office. That charge was based on a payment he accepted for writing an article for a Spanish magazine. He was convicted in a court in Casablanca in June.

Even before his conviction, human rights and drug reform groups were calling his prosecution unjust. "It's pretty clear that the new charges against el-Khayari appear to be one more attempt to silence a critic on politically sensitive issues, and to intimidate other activists," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "El-Khayari's prosecution shows that despite Morocco's reputation for open debate and a thriving civil society, the authorities are still ready to imprison activists who cross certain red lines."

The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) has organized a campaign to seek his release. Click on the ENCOD link here to see how you can help.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


maxwood (not verified)

A bit of fact checking finds an estimate that about 6% of Moroccan govt. revenues are from tobackgo taxes. This 6% understates the amount of influence, however, because there as in the Zentrale der Macht USA the big-buck$ industry invests much further money in the human touch-- well-dressed articulate young lobbyists visit and schmooze with legislators and officials throughout the regime. (Worse: Russia 8%, Pakistan 10% dependent on tobackgo (mainly $igarette) taxes.)

Relevance: the USA (still a major $igarette-exporting nation) leans on its "allies" to hold the line against cannabis for two (2) main reasons: (a) cannabis helps some addicts kick the tobackgo habit; (b) one-toke herb has taught users to economize by using long-stemmed one-hitters (and vaporizers) and when this behavior spills over into the tobackgo-addict population the nicotine $cigarette profit margin is doomed, and those tax revenues from the lowest-income classes along with it.

Sat, 11/28/2009 - 3:26pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

They want ot keep what ever money the USA will give them for the drug war and they have also learned that the drug war pays .

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 8:50pm Permalink

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