Amnesty International has spoken out against Moroccan authorities' treatment of thousands of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees, saying that its ''relentless crackdown'' is ''cruel and unlawful''.
Amnesty International released a statement on Friday excoriating Moroccan authorities' treatment of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees. ''The Moroccan authorities' large-scale crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees without due process is cruel and unlawful,'' Amnesty International said amid ongoing intensive government raids in the north of the country.
'Major raids' in migrant neighborhoods
''Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces have carried out major raids on the neighborhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangiers, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbor the Spanish borders,'' the human rights organization said.
''This shocking crackdown on migrants and refugees in Morocco is both cruel and unlawful. It represents a worrying backslide for a government that in 2013 introduced new asylum and migration policy commitments to bring Morocco into compliance with international standards,'' said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.
An estimated 5,000 people have been swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH).
''The Moroccan authorities must immediately cease these discriminatory roundups and uphold the positive commitments taken over the past five years to respect the human rights of migrants. Going forward, it must adopt a law on asylum that will set out correct procedures and protections in line with international law,'' Morayef added.
Migrants captured and taken to Algerian border
Amnesty International added that it had information about the ongoing crackdown that the authorities have ''seized migrants, asylum seekers and refugees without checking their legal documentation, held them for few hours, took their fingerprints, and then forced them onto buses. The migrants were handcuffed or in some cases had their hands tied together with rope. They were forcibly displaced to remote areas close to the Algerian border or in southern remote areas close to Tiznit, Errachidia, Benguerir, Beni Mellal and Marrakesh.
In many cases, migrants had to walk for several kilometres before reaching the first urban centre from which they could attempt to travel back to their homes.''
''It is shocking to see that young children are among those subjected to these brutal punishments, as well as UN-recognized asylum-seekers and refugees as well as registered migrants holding residency cards,'' said Morayef. ''While the Moroccan authorities have the right to regulate entry, stay and exit, this right must be exercised in a way that is consistent with international human rights law and in accordance with the Refugee Convention,'' she added.