Netherlands can deport Moroccan migrants in exchange for silence on human rights
The relationship between the Netherlands and Morocco, which has for a long time been strained, is becoming closer. This has led to an important change –– the Netherlands can once again deport Moroccan foreign nationals. However, in return, the Netherlands must no longer be as outspoken about human rights abuses in Morocco, according to the NRC.
Morocco has for years refused to cooperate with the deportation process. This stemmed from the Netherlands' criticisms of human rights issues in the North African country, including crackdowns on press freedom and a corrupt legal system.
For example, Moroccan journalists who collaborated with Dutch organization Free Press Unlimited were arrested in 2016 protests and subjected to harsh prison sentences, according to the NRC. Because the Dutch government openly condemned this and other moves by Morocco, the North African country refused to cooperate in repatriating Moroccan migrants. A similar tactic was used on Spain.
However, at the latest United Nations summit, Morocco and the Netherlands were on noticeably better terms. Now, the NRC reports it is again possible to repatriate Moroccan migrants –– although this agreement comes with extra demands on the Netherlands.
For example, the Netherlands will consider an extradition treaty with Morocco. This would mean that Dutch judges assume prisoners they send to Morocco will receive a fair trial. “With such a treaty you give the Moroccan constitutional state a legal seal, as it were," explained Geert Jan Knoop, UvA professor of international law politics, to the NRC. "Only: does Morocco deserve such a quality mark? I don't think so, given the reports of torture, corruption and political persecution."
The Dutch government has also made a commitment to only criticize Morocco's human rights issues privately or in a bloc with other EU countries. “Why should we all on our own point out human rights? You can also leave that to the EU," said one Dutch politician, according to the NRC.
Activists believe this is a shame. “Morocco is very sensitive to publicity," said Hicham Mansouri, an indicted journalist who worked for a project connected to Free Press Unlimited. "There are several examples of journalists who were only released after international outcry arose about their case. But the Netherlands did not want to do anything.”