BEIRUT

Middle East

Morocco jails 8 activists for illegal protest

Protestors demonstrate outside a court in Rabat against the trial of Camara Laye, the founder of the Council of Sub-Saharan migrant in Morocco (CMSM), who was tried for illegally selling alcohol and cigarettes, on December 18, 2012. (PHOTOS AFP/FADEL SENNA)

RABAT: A Moroccan appeals court on Tuesday jailed eight unemployed youth activists from the February 20 protest movement for up to six months for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration, a rights group said.

Four of the activists were sentenced to six months and the other four to three months, by the court in the coastal city of Agadir, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) said.

The court reduced earlier sentences of between eight and 10 months in jail.

The activists were arrested on 29 September, a day after protesting in the impoverished town of Sidi Ifni, 700 kilometres (435 miles) south of Rabat, said Abdallah Idrissi, who heads the local branch of the AMDH.

"They were simply demanding the right to work," he told AFP, adding that some activists from Sidi Ifni had been in prison since 2008, when clashes erupted between unemployed youths and policemen that left scores wounded.

The justice ministry was not immediately able to confirm the information, when contacted by AFP.

Among those jailed on Tuesday were Zine El Abidine El Radi and Abdallah El-Hehi, both in their 20s, and who were both members of the AMDH, according to the rights group, the country's largest.

Morocco introduced constitutional reforms last year in a bid to contain Arab Spring protests that erupted in the north African country, as similar unrest toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

The reforms helped contain the unrest, with an Islamist government sweeping to power in snap elections in November 2011, on the back of promises to battle corruption and social inequality.

But a year on, there is widespread frustration at the slow pace of reform.

 

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