Geneva - The use of excessive force by Moroccan security to prevent a student activity at Hassan II University of Casablanca is unjustified, undermines liberties, and reflects a high level of security repression, said Euro-Med Monitor and AFD International in a joint statement.

The two organisations were deeply concerned by Moroccan police forces storming the Hassan II University campus last week.  They violently assaulted hundreds of students with batons, with particular damage to the upper body, seized students, and verbally insulted them.

More than 50 students were injured as a result of repressions, with six suffering fractures in various parts of their bodies, and four suffering serious upper-body injuries. Many students fainted and suffocated, and their activity equipment was destroyed and confiscated.

   Storming the university and suppressing students in this manner undermines the inviolability of the university and reflects a high level of security repression   

Storming the university and suppressing students in this manner undermines the inviolability of the university, which has always been a space for free expression and noble values. This demonstrates the Moroccan authorities’ blatant disregard for individuals’ constitutional rights.

Last Wednesday, Moroccan security forces stormed the Faculty of Arts and Humanities auditorium at Hassan II University of Casablanca to prevent the National Union of Moroccan Students from holding its 17th national meeting.

The students were forcibly removed from the auditorium, Union activists were detained for several hours, and they were severely abused. The students were then released after being threatened with arrest and expulsion from the university if they organised similar activities in the future.

Moroccan security’s behaviour reveals the authorities’ determination to combat all forms of free expression and peaceful participation. The fact that a student activity was prohibited, and participants were assaulted, strongly implies the existence of a political agenda to undermine liberties and violate individuals’ right to publicly express their opinions and views.

There is no justification for violent security behaviour towards students, as Article 22 states “The physical or moral integrity of anyone may not be infringed, in whatever circumstance that may be, and by any party that may be, public or private,” while Article 29 states “The freedoms of reunion, of assembly, of peaceful demonstration, of association and of syndical and political membership [appartenance], are guaranteed.”

Moroccan authorities must immediately launch an investigation into the violent attacks on students, identify and hold accountable all those responsible, particularly those who issued the orders, and thoroughly review the security policy practices aimed at peaceful activities.

Euro-Med Monitor and AFD International urge Moroccan authorities to respect all individuals’ rights, including students’ right to organise cultural and trade union activities and exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free expression through the use of various legitimate peaceful tools. The authorities must cease all measures that may limit individuals’ exercise of their guaranteed rights, especially those related to freedom.