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Call for Release of Moroccan Marijuana, Human Rights Activist

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #672)
Consequences of Prohibition

Last week, Moroccan human rights activist, denouncer of corruption, and marijuana legalization advocate Chakib El-Khayari began his third year in prison for "offending the Moroccan state." El-Khayari, president of the Human Rights Association of the Rif region in Morocco, has been jailed since February 17, 2009, and now, European drug reform activists and international human rights groups are calling for his release.

Chaikh El-Khayari (
El-Khayari, who is also known for defending the rights of the Amazigh (Berber) people and African migrants passing through en route to Europe, aroused the ire of the Moroccan state for declaring to the press that the Moroccan military and police are collaborating in the trafficking of hashish to Europe. In 2008, he also took the path-breaking step of initiating a national debate on the legalization of industrial hemp and medical marijuana.

El-Khayari was arrested on February 17, 2009, and has been jailed ever since. He was convicted of "offending the Moroccan state" for his statements about the involvement of high-ranking officials in the police, the army, and the government in the hash trade. He was also convicted of violating Morocco's foreign exchange laws for depositing in a bank in Madrid a check from a Spanish newspaper for an article he had written.

In an open letter to Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) is calling for El Khayari's immediate release. It is also calling on activists to print out and sign the letter, sending copies to the king and to the Moroccan embassy in their countries.

"Nothing justifies the heavy sanction that has been applied to Chakib El-Khayari," the letter says. "It is a manifest act of repression that is contrary to the international instruments to protect human rights that were ratified by Morocco and in particular, the international agreement on civil and political rights between Morocco and the European Union. We denounce firmly the detention of Chakib El-Khayari and urge his inmediate and unconditional release."

It's not just drug reformers. Five months ago, Amnesty International called for El-Khayari's release, saying it considers him a prisoner of conscience, "solely detained for his anti-corruption statements and his human rights activities."

The call for El-Khayari's release comes as the Moroccan government teeters under the wave of popular unrest that is sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. Five people were killed during widespread protests seeking constitutional reform Sunday.

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.


TJ (not verified)

to me if they arrested him then what he says must be true. if it was bullshit he was talking about why would they care if he says it. Just like he someone says you have a small penis and you get mad about it then its probably true.

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 3:43am Permalink
Ussef (not verified)

So, because you like the guy's stances on other matters, he should be exonerated and told not to be so naughty again?

The guy failed to back his claims with proofs. He was sued for label and got his sentence, according to the law. He made a mistake, now he should suck it up, serve his time, then go back and do better investigative work, not just empty talk. Posing as a victim is pretty lame.

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 2:35pm Permalink
earl (not verified)

Let's hope the wave of pro-democracy agitation in the Mid-East catches up with the concentration camp called Morocco. I just saw Gaddafi's televised speech and that thug can't believe what's happening at all. He's so shocked he's not even coherent. His victims are determined to get rid of him and shall. Let's hope Mohammed VI and his sycophants get the boot as soon as possible. They deserve it. I have been to Morocco and the place is kept a slave colony by arrogant bureaucrats in cahoots with western business interests.
Wed, 02/23/2011 - 6:37am Permalink
Forlen Ainjull (not verified)

There's a wave of democracy moving across North Africa and the Middle East, in both directions either side of Libya. Lets hope it builds up into a social tsunami that washes away the dictators and corruption that the people of this part of the world have had to live under for so long - supported by Western business and political interests. The only trouble is that Morocco has no oil, weapons industry, strategic geography (eg. proximity to Israel), etc. - but lovely hashish - so the cleansing waters of people power may not have the same impact there.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 1:31pm Permalink

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