Organisation Marocaine Des Droits de l'homme
ORGANISATION MAROCAINE DES DROITS DE L'HOMME
moroccan human rights organization.
The Moroccan Human Rights Organization (OMDH) was founded in 1988 by a group of Moroccan professionals to address the problem of human rights violations in the kingdom. Prior to the establishment of the OMDH, the Istiqlal Party had founded the Ligue Marocaine de Défense des Droits de l'Homme (Moroccan League for the Defense of Human Rights) in 1972, and the Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires (Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP) had established the Association Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme (Moroccan Association of Human Rights) in 1979. The OMDH planned its first congress for May 1988. Initially banned by the government because of its "extremist" membership, the OMDH was finally allowed to hold its inaugural assembly at Agdal (Rabat), in December 1988. The presidency has been held by Omar Azziman (1988–1989); Khalid Naciri (1990–1991); Ali Oumlil (1991–1992); Abdelaziz Bennani (1992–2000), and Abdellah Oualladi (2000–).
Among the goals of the organization are the diffusion of knowledge about individual and collective human rights at the civil, political, cultural, and socioeconomic levels; the protection of human rights; the reinforcement of the rights of the individual during the judiciary process; the consolidation of an independent judiciary and its impartiality; the consolidation of democracy and the rule of the law; and the promotion of international solidarity in the defense of human rights. The OMDH is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights, based in Paris; the International Commission of Jurists, based in Geneva; the World Organization against Torture, based in Geneva; and the Arab Organization of Human Rights, based in Cairo. The organization periodically cooperates with international and regional organizations, such as the Association Marocaine des Droits Humains, the Ligue Marocaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme, and the Comité de Défense des Droits Humaines.
The OMDH's initial focus on abuses of prisoners' rights led the government to release over one thousand prisoners by the end of 1989. In response to published OMDH reports, King Hassan II founded the Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme (Consultative Council of Human Rights). The creation of a Ministry of Human Rights in November 1993 was interpreted as a new attempt on the part of the government to neutralize the work of the existing human rights organizations. Disturbances in late 1990 sparked renewed activism on the part of OMDH in 1991, which continued into 1992 and 1993. To its earlier agenda of concern with issues of torture, the disappeared, and prison conditions, the OMDH added passport denials, violations of travel freedom, an independent judiciary, and press controls as points of contention with the government.
The OMDH publishes a magazine, al-Karama, and OMDH materials often appear in the publications of other organizations, such as the Rassemblement Nationale des Indépendants (National Rally of Independents), the former Communist paper alBayan (The clarion), and USFP newspapers.
In February 1993, Mohamed Mikou, secretary-general of the Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme (CCDH), recommended that the government cooperate with human rights organizations and that King Hassan ratify the U.N. Convention on Torture, to which the king agreed on 14 June 1993; the United Nations acknowledged the Moroccan ratification on 21 July 1993. Amnesty Inter-national's April 1993 report on Morocco stated that five hundred people had "disappeared" in Morocco since 1963. It named secret detention centers and provided a list of forty-eight Sahrawi prisoners who had died in detention between 1976 and 1990.
The death of King Hassan II and the enthronement of King Muhammad VI in July 1999 was received with a certain level of hope by the progressive sectors of the country. In 1999, the OMDH called on international human rights organizations to form a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses in the Lahmada refugee camps of Tinduf, stronghold of POLISARIO. In 2001, the OMDH denounced governmental repression against the Moroccan Association National des Diplomés Chômeurs (Association of Unemployed College-Degree Holders). Following a month of street mobilizations, the OMDH joined other Moroccan human rights organizations in denouncing the "disappearance" of individuals suspected of having links with al-Qaʿida in December, 2002. The OMDH has opposed the sentencing to three years of imprisonment of Moroccan journalist Ali Mrabet, director of the French language publication Demain and its Arabic counterpart Duman, for the publication in a Catalonian newspaper of several cartoons critical of the Moroccan monarch; the organization continues to demand a full investigation of the "disappearances" and during the 1990s and beyond has focused on the abuses in Moroccan prisons. It has also criticized human rights abuses in the Republic of Tunisia under the Zayn al-Abidine Ben Ali government. In January 2003, the OMDH issued a statement condemning the U.S. military attack against Iraq as an action that contravened international law.
see also ben ali, zayn al-abidine; istiqlal party: morocco; polisario; rassemblement national des indÉpendants (rni); union socialiste des forces populaires (usfp).
Dwyer, Kevin. Arab Voices: The Human Rights Debate in the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
Human Rights Watch: Morocco. Available from <http://www.hrw.org/mideast/morocco.php>.
Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains. Available from <http://www.omdh.org>.
larry a. barrie
updated by vanesa casanova-fernandez