Category archive


« Ali’s appeal dismissed », by Frances Webber, Ali Aarrass London Support Committee


The Moroccan Court of Cassation dismissed Ali’s appeal.
This is devastating news. Ali’s lawyers are considering with the international secretariat of Amnesty International what the next steps should be.

The Moroccan authorities continue to ignore the rulings and demands of international bodies such as the UN Committee Against Torture which called on them again recently to respect his fundamental rights by putting an end to his solitary confinement and to the prison conditions which have severely damaged his physical and mental health.

Throughout his imprisonment, he has suffered threats, pressure, unjustified searches and seizures, beatings, deprivation of basic medical care, interference with correspondence, restrictions on visits from friends and lawyers. Since October last year he has been in solitary confinement with inadequate food and bedding, and no medical care despite his repeated sickness and vomiting, causing him to lose 18kg in weight.

The Belgian authorities too have ignored the demands of his family and of human rights groups to come to his aid, despite his Belgian nationality.

If you would like to write to Ali (preferably in French or Spanish, but English would do), so that he knows people are thinking of him, his address is:

Ali Aarrass (no. d’ecrou 930)
Prison de Tiflet 2

Thank you.



London Support Ali Aarrass : Tomorrow, after waiting for four years since lodging his appeal, the Moroccan Court of Cassation will hear Ali Aarrass’ appeal


Dear Friends of Ali Aarrass,

Tomorrow, after waiting for four years since lodging his appeal, the Moroccan Court of Cassation will hear Ali Aarrass’ appeal against his 2011 conviction and 12-year sentence following a grossly unfair trial lasting only a few hours, based solely on torture evidence (a conclusion confirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention among other bodies). 
The findings of these bodies, and the international support for Ali Aarrass, have not been enough to secure his release, or even an improvement in his conditions. Since being moved from Salé II prison in Rabat to Tifelt II local prison in October 2016, he has been held in isolation, sleeping on a concrete slab with only an hour a day to exercise, one shower a week, and inadequate food. These conditions, and his continued unlawful imprisonment, are having a severe impact on his health.
Please write immediately in Arabic, French or your own language urging the Moroccan authorities to: 
n        Implement the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) calling on them to release Ali Aarrass immediately and award him adequate compensation; 
n        Immediately end Ali Aarrass’ solitary confinement and ensure he is held in humane conditions; 
n        Ensure he has immediate access to a qualified health professional to provide health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent. 
Director of General Administration for Prison Administration and Reinsertion 
Mohamed Saleh Tamek         
Angle Avenue Arar et rue El-Jouz 
Hay El Riyad, Rabat, Morocco         
Fax: + 212 5 37 71 26 19 
Salutation: Dear Sir Minister of Justice and Liberties 
Mustafa Ramid         
Ministry of Justice and Liberties 
Place El Mamounia – BP 1015 
Rabat, Morocco 
Fax: + 212 5 37 73 47 25 
Salutation: Your Excellency And copies to: 
International Delegation for Human Rights 
Interministerial Delegate 
Mahjoub El Haiba 
Angle Avenue Ibn Sina et 
Rue Oued El Makhazine 
Agdal, Rabat, Morocco 
Fax: +212 5 37 67 11 55 
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. 

Please support Amnesty’s appeal and show the Moroccan authorities that enough is enough! 
All the best
Frances Webber

New books on Ali Aarrass – an appeal from the London Support Committee


ali-aarrass-london-friendsDear supporters of Ali Aarrass,

On 24 September, two new books were launched in Brussels, at a reception attended and addressed by poets and writers, human rights and anti-racist activists, parliamentarians and lawyers.
Je m’appelle Ali Aarrass (‘My name is Ali Aarrass’) is a cartoon documentary, telling Ali’s story in words and pictures. The other book, Lettres de prison d’Ali Aarrass & Journal d’une grève de la faim de Farida Aarrass’, comprises Ali’s letters from prison and his sister Farida’s diary of Ali’s hunger strike.

We need to publicise these books here, in order to raise money for the continuing legal costs and to keep up the pressure for Ali’s release. Perhaps we can co-organise an event with a prisoners’ group here in the UK, or an anti-torture group. Does anyone have any ideas, any contacts who could help us with this?

Ali has been in prison for a total of eight and a half years. He is still waiting for the appeal submitted to the Cassation Court over three years ago to be listed for hearing, and for the Belgian consul to visit him in accordance with the Belgian court order upheld by the appeal court two years ago.

Please get in touch if you can help publicise these two books or if you have ideas on how and with whom we can do it.


Frances Webber

London Support Ali Aarrass <>


UK January 2016 action for Ali Aarrass


ali_aarrass releaseDear Friends of Ali Aarrass,

14 December 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of Ali’s unlawful extradition by Spain to Morocco. The date was marked by Amnesty International (Belgium) handing in a 10,000-signature petition to the Moroccan ambassador to Belgium, and also by a broadcast on RiveWest  a webradio run by residents of the Molenbeek district of Brussels (see Liz Fekete’s article on policing and media coverage of the district here).

Members of the campaign to free Ali gathered the following day, 15 December, outside the Radisson Hotel, where Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders was being wined and dined by the US Chamber of Commerce, to show Reynders the meal given to prisoners in Sale II, the notorious prison where Ali is held, and to demand that Belgium comply with the court order to give Ali consular assistance. Supporters kept up the pressure in the new year, with a picket of another expensive dinner attended by Reynders on 6 January. (The Free Ali website has details.)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International UK is asking its supporters to write to their MEPs this month or next about disrespect of human rights in Morocco, with a particular focus on Ali’s case and that of Wafae Charaf and Oussama Housne. They have asked whether Ali’s supporters in the UK can do the same. I circulate their appeal below.

If you can do so, ask your MEP to write to the Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the European Union expressing your concern. You could even ask for a meeting with your MEP to discuss it. You can find your MEP by going to your-meps.html. Click on your geographical region and this will then take you to a list of the  MEPs for that region with their contact details. Please particularly target MEPs who are on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees.

In order that you can brief your MEP, the details of the cases are set out below. (In Ali’s case you may recall much of what follows but a reminder may be useful.)

Thank you. 

Ali Aarrass london support committeeFrances Webber
London Friends of Ali Aarrass

Ali Aarrass  is a 53-year-old Belgian-Moroccan national who used to run a bookshop in Brussels and later a cafe in Melilla. On 14th December 2010, the Spanish authorities extradited Ali to Morocco, where (despite being a citizen) he had never lived. The extradition was in breach of a stay requested by the UN Human Rights Committee and ignored warnings from Ali’s family, lawyers and supporters and from Amnesty International that Ali would be at risk of incommunicado detention, torture and unfair trial.
In Morocco, Ali was held incommunicado for 12 days and brutally tortured in a secret detention centre run by the General Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory (Direction generale de la surveillance du territoire, DST) in Temara.  He was beaten on the soles of his feet, given electric shocks to his testicles, suspended from his wrists and burned with cigarettes.  On 19th November 2011, solely on the basis of a « confession » extracted under torture (and written in Arabic, a language he does not understand), he was convicted of participating in and procuring arms for a criminal group known as the « Belliraj Network ». He was sentenced to 15 years in prison which was reduced to 12 years on appeal. Ali has always maintained his innocence.

In September 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, and an independent forensic doctor, visited Ali in detention and confirmed his torture claims.

In July 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee condemned Spain for its extradition of Ali.  The Committee found as a fact that Ali had been tortured, and that the Spanish authorities had not properly assessed the risk of torture before extraditing him. They said that Spain’s treatment of Ali violated Article 7 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, which bans exposure to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. Spain was asked to award Ali adequate compensation and to take all possible measures to work with the Moroccan authorities to ensure that he was well treated. In 2015, the Committee Against Torture also expressed concern about the extradition and called on Spain to investigate Ali’s torture allegations.

In January 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention named Ali as someone who had been convicted solely on the basis of torture evidence and called on the Moroccan authorities to reform the penal code to prevent reliance on such evidence. It asked for Ali’s immediate release with compensation for his detention. 
In February 2014, the Brussels High Court ruled that the Belgian authorities are under a duty to provide Ali with consular assistance. Their ruling was upheld by the Belgian Court of Appeal on 9 September 2014, and the Belgian authorities are appealing this decision before the Court of Cassation.

On 19th May 2014 the UN Committee Against Torture found that the Moroccan authorities violated several articles of the Convention Against Torture with regard to Ali and called on them to  investigate and report to the Committee within 90 days. Ali had two meetings with an Investigative Judge and in November 2014 he underwent a medical examination over several days without an independent monitor present. Ali’s lawyers have yet to receive the report of his medical examination, and have said that they were not aware that any witnesses were questioned or that any locations identified by Ali were searched. 

Ali has undertaken several hunger and/ or thirst strikes, coming close to death on occasions and permanently impairing his health, in protest against his continuing imprisonment and the reprisals and ill-treatment he has suffered  in Sale II prison for publicising his case. Most recently, in August 2015 Ali went on hunger strike to protest about fresh improper treatment by the head guard  in his prison block, significant delays in the investigation carried out by the judicial authorities into his torture allegations, and the failure of the Court of Cassation, Morocco’s highest court, to list his appeal, nearly three years after his appeal against conviction was lodged. On 29 September 2015, he said that several men came to search his cell, without identifying themselves, although some were wearing green uniforms and others civilian clothes. They threw him to the floor, causing him severe pain, and kicked him and shouted at him when he asked to see a doctor. He said that they filmed the search, which lasted over two hours, and destroyed his personal belongings off-camera. His family believe that this was in retaliation for Ali having reported being tortured in 2010, as well as the international public campaign calling for his release.

Ali suspended his hunger strike on 4th November 2015 as his health was failing. Amnesty International heard in November 2015  that the investigation into Ali’s allegations of torture had been closed. Ali’s lawyers were informed of the decision as they attempted to bring  a civil action and were told that this was not possible, because the investigation had been closed. They have had no access to the decision but understand that the case was dismissed.

Our calls are: that the Moroccan authorities must ensure that Ali is protected from further ill-treatment and is treated humanely; that they must order a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the ill-treatment that Ali suffered on 29 September, and hold those responsible to account; and must implement the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, ie, release Ali immediately and give him adequate compensation.

 Wafae Charaf (28) and Oussama Housne (23) are both considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience and AI is campaigning for their release. Wafae and Oussama are currently imprisoned in separate prisons in Morocco on charges of slander and false allegations of torture. Wafae reported to Amnesty International that she was abducted after attending a workers protest in Tangiers, Morocco in April 2014, where she was tortured by a group of men who threatened further violence if she continued with her activism.
After filing a report with the authorities an investigation was launched, however, rather than the perpetrators being arrested Wafae ended up in prison charged with “falsely reporting torture.” On August 12, 2014 she was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 1,000 Moroccan Dirhams (66 GBP) for slander and “falsely reporting torture” and to pay an additional 50,000 Dirham (3,330 GBP) to the Moroccan police department for slander, even though she never named the department in her accusations. Since her initial trial, and during the appeal process, Wafae’s sentence has been increased by a further year.

In a mirroring case, Oussama House was abducted after leaving a protest in May of 2014 where he was tortured by a group of men via burning with a heated metal rod and raping him with their fingers. Oussama publicised this incident on his YouTube channel with the goal of having the Moroccan authorities investigate his abuse. However, he was subsequently arrested after they claimed his allegations were not truthful and he had lied about his torture.

On the 23rd of July Oussama, like Wafae, was imprisoned on charges of “falsely reporting torture” and slander, however, he was handed a three year sentence. Oussama was also ordered to pay 100,000 Dirham (6,660 GBP) to the Moroccan police for slander, even though again like Wafae, he had never named the police in any of his allegations.

IRCT calls on Morocco to release Ali Aarrass’ medical documents




In a letter sent to the Moroccan Minister of Justice and Liberties, the IRCT is urging the Government of Morocco to release all medical documents pertaining to Ali Aarrass, who has been a prisoner in Morocco since 2010.

The letter also calls on an independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the treatment of Mr Aarrass while in the custody of the police and prison services in Morocco. Mr Aarrass alleges that he was subjected to torture and various forms of inhuman and degrading treatment while in prison – an allegation that is supported by medical examinations carried out by an independent forensic expert.

The IRCT’s involvement with Mr Aarrass goes back to 2012 when the Moroccan authorities provided Mr Aarrass with a medico-legal evaluation in order to assess the allegations of torture and ill-treatment. An expert from the IRCT’s Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) produced a thorough and substantial criticism of the procedures and the findings of the Moroccan medico-legal evaluation.  The forensic expert concluded that the report did not meet Istanbul Protocol standards and recommended that a new medical and psychological examination be conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol.

Mr Aarrass was subsequently provided a second series of medical and psychological evaluations in November 2014. His legal counsel has informed the IRCT that despite repeatedly requesting the medical files from the second evaluation, the investigating judge dismissed the requests on procedural grounds. His legal counsel have asked the IRCT to assess whether the second medico-legal report meets Istanbul Protocol standards. However, the IRCT is unable to perform this assessment as Mr Aarrass and his legal counsel have been refused access to this medico-legal report.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Mendez, visited Mr Aarrass in September 2012 with an independent forensic expert who examined Mr. Aarrass and confirmed that Mr Aarrass’ account of torture was consistent with the medical examinations. Furthermore, the UN Committee against Torture adopted a decision, noting that the Moroccan government had violated article 2, paragraph 1, and articles 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the UN Convention against Torture.

The IRCT letter attached the Expert Statement “On the Right of Access” to relevant medical records that was issued by IFEG and published in the peer-reviewed journal Torture. The Expert Statement details the relevant international standards for the investigation of allegations of torture and highlights the importance of access to medical documentation to that end.  

As one of the initiators of the global Convention against Torture Initiative, which aims for universal ratification and implementation of the Convention against Torture by 2024, it is incumbent on the Moroccan Government to demonstrate leadership on the implementation of the Convention and to ensure that national laws, policies and procedures provide for strong safeguards against torture and ill-treatment.

London, 28 October : London Support Group of Ali Aarrass et Amnesty international devant l’ambassade du Maroc (english/français)


Members of the London Support Group for Ali Aarrass were joined by representatives of Amnesty International at a demonstration for Ali outside the Moroccan Embassy in London on 28 October, calling on the Moroccan government to free Ali.

We were able to hand in a document setting out Ali’s five demands, but neither the ambassador, Princess Lalla Jamoula Alaoui, nor her political counsellor Zineb Bentahla, nor any member of the diplomatic staff were able to receive a delegation.

In fact security officials called the police, with whom, when they arrived – two members of the diplomatic protection unit on motorbikes with blue lights blazing – we had a friendly word.

Frances Webber, London Support Group of Ali Aarrass

(fr) Des membres du groupe de soutien de Londres pour Ali Aarrass et des responsables d’Amnesty International ont appelé le gouvernement marocain à libérer Ali lors d’une manifestation pour Ali devant l’ambassade du Maroc à Londres le 28 octobre.

Nous avons pu remettre un document avec les cinq demandes d’Ali , mais ni l’ambassadeur, ni la Princesse Lalla Jamoula Alaoui , ni son conseiller politique Zineb Bentahla , ni aucun autre membre du personnel diplomatique ont voulu recevoir une délégation .

Les responsables de la sécurité ont appelé la police. Quand ils sont arrivés – deux membres de l’unité de la protection diplomatique sur des motos avec des lumières bleues flamboyantes – nous avons eu avec eux un entretien aimable.

Lettre à monsieur Guy Trouveroy, ambassadeur belge à Londres : 37 personnalités britanniques demandent une intervention immédiate de la Belgique pour Ali Aarrass


Friends of Ali Aarrass

London Support Committee


Guy Trouveroy

Ambassador of Belgium in the UK,

17, Grosvenor Crescent
London SW1X 7EE

15 October 2015

By email to and by post

Your Excellency,

We are writing to ask you to convey to your government our grave concern about the condition of Ali Aarrass, the dual Belgian/ Moroccan national imprisoned in Salé II prison since his conviction in November 2011 on evidence obtained by torture.

On 25 August 2015 M. Aarrass embarked on hunger strike in protest against continued bullying, humiliation and mistreatment at the hands of prison staff. Since then, his situation has become even worse, with Amnesty International issuing an Urgent Action in respect of reports from his family that he was severely beaten on 29 September by several men, some in green uniforms, others in plain clothes, during a cell search.

M. Aarrass is calling for his release, two years after the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Moroccan authorities to release him immediately, following its conclusion that he had been convicted solely on the basis of “confessions” extracted under torture. He is also protesting against the significant delays in the investigation carried out by the judicial authorities into his torture allegations, as well as the Court of Cassation’s failure to make a decision in his case nearly three years after submitting his appeal against his conviction to the court.

You will be aware that in September 2014 the Belgian Court of Appeal rejected your government’s appeal against the High Court’s ruling that it was obliged to offer diplomatic assistance to M. Aarrass, as a Belgian national, since the Moroccan government was not a party to the Hague Convention which precludes the provision of protection to dual nationals against the authorities of their other nationality, and because of the fundamental human rights engaged by M. Aarrass’ case – protection from inhuman or degrading treatment or torture and the right to physical and psychological integrity. It is highly regrettable that your government appears to have taken no effective action to protect its national M. Aarrass since the Court of Appeal’s ruling, and has instead appealed the Court’s ruling, while allowing him to remain incarcerated in intolerable conditions (according to authoritative rulings from UN human rights bodies).

We urge your government to intervene to protect M. Aarrass from further ill-treatment, and to ensure that he is treated in accordance with humanitarian norms. This would of course be entirely without prejudice to your legal position that you are under no binding obligation to do so – a position maintained by the minister M. Reynders in August 2013 when, during M. Aarrass’ almost fatal hunger and thirst strike, he was prevailed on to intervene with the Moroccan authorities.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International (UK)

Smita Bajaria, Solicitor

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London

Professor Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC

Naima Bouteldja, Freelance journalist

Professor Bill Bowring, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Professor Emeritus Lee Bridges, School of Law, University of Warwick

Victoria Brittain, Author and journalist

Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Louise Christian, Solicitor

Committee on the Administration of Justice, Belfast

Helen Curtis, Barrister

Liz Davies, Barrister

Liz Farrell, Solicitor

Liz Fekete, Director, Institute of Race Relations

Daniel Furner, Solicitor

Omar Geloo, Solicitor

Professor Avery Gordon, University of California Santa Barbara

Professor Penny Green, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London

Richard Harvey, Barrister

Trevor Hemmings, Researcher

Michael House, Barrister

Catriona Jarvis, former Judge Upper Tribunal

Professor Mark McGovern, Edge Hill University

Dr Thomas Macmanus, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Philip Marfleet, University of East London

Piers Mostyn, Barrister

Terry Munyard, Barrister

Greg O’Ceallaigh, Barrister

Beth O’Reilly, Barrister

Peter Pelz, Director, Soul of Europe

Collin Prescod, Film maker, Chair, Institute of Race Relations

Revd. Donald Reeves, Director, Soul of Europe

David Renton, Barrister

Ronan Toal, Barrister

Anthony Vaughan, Barrister

Frances Webber, Barrister, Vice-chair, Institute of Race Relations

Marc Willers QC, Barrister

London Friends of Ali Aarrass : « Please circulate this shocking video to as many people as possible.. »


AliDear Friends of Ali Aarrass,

There is a shocking video at youtube ( ) which I want you to watch, and to circulate to as many people as possible. Taken three years ago in Sale II prison, it shows all the scars and marks of torture on Ali’s body. Yet still the Moroccan authorities keep him incarcerated, and still the Belgian government fails to act to protect its national.

I’m also forwarding the AI Urgent Action for your information.

Diplomatic intervention by the Belgian government is, we believe, vital to ensure Ali’s safety and survival. We would urge you to write to Guy Trouveroy, Ambassador, the Embassy of Belgium in the UK, at 17 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EE, email, asking his government to intervene with the Moroccan government to ensure that Ali’s treatment is fully consistent with international humanitarian standards. You may remember that the Belgian government was ordered to provide diplomatic assistance to Ali by the Brussels Court last year, an order which was upheld by the Court of Appeal, but the government is pursuing a further appeal.

However, although it has always refused to acknowledge any legal duty to intervene, the Belgian government did intervene in August 2013, when Ali was at risk of death from a prolonged hunger and thirst strike.

While Ali remains at the mercy of the Moroccan prison authorities, we must do all we can.


Frances Webber

London Friends of Ali Aarrass


Please write to H.E. Laila Joumala Alaoui, Moroccan ambassador in London

Demo London Dec 2011 Nico 2H.E. Laila Joumala Alaoui
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in London
49 Queen’s Gate Gardens, London SW7 5NE
Your Excellency,
I am extremely concerned about Ali Aarrass, who has been in prison in Morocco since December 2010. He has consistently claimed to have been tortured during his initial incommunicado detention, resulting in a false confession used to convict him of involvement in terrorism. His claims have been upheld by a number of international bodies but he remains in prison. The law concerning appeals to the Cour de Cassation from detained persons appears to have been violated in his case, since he has waited for three years since lodging his appeal. Additionally, his rights to dignity and humane treatment have not been respected in Sale II prison. Further, requests for consular access by Belgium, the state of his other nationality, have been ignored. 
Please convey to your government my grave concern, and my request for M. Aarrass’ immediate release with compensation, as recommended over a year ago by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. 

Yours sincerely
An action from the Ali Aarrass London Support Committee

Ali Aarrass: the last struggle, Press release from the Jus Cogens legal practice and the Free Ali Committee 15 September 2015


15 September 2015

Press release from the Jus Cogens legal practice and the Free Ali Committee

Ali Aarrass: the last struggle

Justice for Ali Frances and Beverly Foulkes Jones(translation Frances Webber)

Ali Aarrass, dual-national Belgian citizen whose case has sadly become famous in many countries through Amnesty International’s campaign against torture, has been on hunger strike since 25 August in Salée II prison in Morocco.

‘The hunger strike has become the only way I can make my voice heard’, wrote Ali Aarrass on 27 August in a letter to the Moroccan Ministry of Justice.

Today, after twenty-two days on hunger strike, his state of health is becoming increasingly worrying. Ali has lost 12kg. He suffers migraines and insomnia. His joints are very painful, he has difficulty speaking and standing.

Despite this, Ali Aarrass has determined to continue his hunger strike until the Moroccan authorities respond to his five demands.

  1. Stop the arbitrariness and ill-treatment at Salée II

Certain guards and officers in the prison, such as the landing supervisor Ben Ali Hicham, create a climate of constant tension through provocations, humiliations, threats and insults, and should be dismissed from their posts. The elementary rights of prisoners must be respected.

  1. Communicate the results of the investigation of Ali’s complaint of torture, awaited since September 2014

On 27 May 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture gave the Moroccan government three months to complete an impartial and rigorous investigation into the torture of Ali Aarrass, including a medical examination complying with international standards. An investigation was re-opened, but seventeen months later no report and no conclusions have been made available.

  1. A response to the application for appeal, awaited since 2012

Three years ago, after Ali’s conviction was upheld on appeal, an application for further appeal was lodged by the defence, immediately after the verdict and within the period contemplated by the law. The Moroccan authorities have never responded to this application, meaning that the criminal justice process for Ali has never finished, so he remains in provisional detention, with requests for transfers etc blocked

  1. Authorisation for a consular visit by Belgium, awaited since September 2014

Since September 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made repeated requests to the Moroccan authorities to visit Ali Aarrass. This information was confirmed by a letter from M. Reynders of 9 September 2015, which says: ‘In order to be able to visit a prisoner, whoever he is, the Embassy must always request authorisation for the visit from the authorities of the country where the person is detained. The request to visit M. Aarrass was duly lodged with the Moroccan authorities.’ . For a year, the Moroccan authorities have refused to respond to this request, preventing the Belgian consul from visiting a Belgian citizen, and thus violating international law.

  1. Immediate release

Ali Aarrass has never been definitively judged or condemned, and his provisional detention now exceeds any reasonable period contemplated by the law. Article 546 of the Moroccan criminal procedure code stipulates that ‘the Court of Appeal is obliged to rule urgently and as a priority on appeals of those detained, within a maximum period of three months of receiving the dossier’. After eight years of provisional detention, immediate release for Ali is the least that can be done to restore an equitable process.

In its opinion of October 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Moroccan authorities ‘to release Mr Aarrass immediately [and] grant him adequate compensation’. (

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