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Morocco’s justice system criticized over coerced confessions, political trials

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco’s justice system overly relies on coerced confessions in politically-tinged trials and needs serious reform, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Friday.

It describes six cases which the group said didn’t follow international norms of due process and allegedly involved confessions coerced from defendants and judges who ignored claims of torture.

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‘‘There is a complicity between the judges and police,’’ said Eric Goldstein, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s North Africa division, describing how police allegedly coerce confessions, then present them to court. ‘‘The judges are in a hurry to convict based on that without looking for other evidence.’’

Morocco’s judicial system has long been criticized, and the king himself promised reform in 2009 — a cry that was later taken up by the moderate Islamist party that dominated the 2011 elections and now runs the government. However, in the year and a half the new government has been in power, the reform is still being studied.

The Justice Ministry referred all questions over the report’s findings to the minister himself, Mustapha Ramid, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Human Rights Watch said he declined to meet with its officials as they prepared the report.

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