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U.N. critical of Morocco's rights record

Sept. 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Moroccan authorities are called on to investigate the rising number of reports of abusive behavior targeting government critics, a U.N. special envoy said.

Moroccan voters in July 2011 backed a new constitution that embraces basic human rights and freedoms of expression. Human Rights Watch early this year said it was concerned new Moroccan laws were in violation of international political rights, however.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez said he heard accounts of "severe beatings" and "sexual violence" during a visit to the country this month.

"It appears that there is a spike in occurrences of excessive force when the police or other authorities respond to incidents that involve assembly," he said.

Whether or not demonstrations were sanctioned by the government is no reason for security personnel to consider force, he added.

Mendez said there were gains in revamping the country's prison system but added that not only does abusive behavior target anti-government groups but also those accused of ordinary crimes.

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