Rights activists slam Moroccan navy for deadly migrant boat shooting

Human rights activists on Thursday hit out at Morocco’s navy for firing on a boat that was carrying migrants to Spain, in an assault that killed a 22-year-old student. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Rights activists slam Moroccan navy for deadly migrant boat shooting

  • Hayat Belkacem died and three other Moroccans were wounded when a speedboat they were in was hit by live rounds on Tuesday in waters off the Moroccan locality of M’diq-Fnideq.
  • Human Rights Watch called for the investigation to begin immediately.

RABAT: Human rights activists on Thursday hit out at Morocco’s navy for firing on a boat that was carrying migrants to Spain, in an assault that killed a 22-year-old student.
Hayat Belkacem died and three other Moroccans were wounded — one critically — when a speedboat they were in was hit by live rounds on Tuesday in waters off the Moroccan locality of M’diq-Fnideq.
“There is no evidence at all to suggest that the passengers were a security risk to anyone — the only legal justification Morocco might have had to fire on them,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said.
Morocco’s navy found the boat acting “in a suspicious manner in Moroccan waters,” according to a statement by the M’diq-Fnideq authorities, released by the interior ministry on Tuesday.
The vessel had “refused to comply with warnings,” the statement said.
The Spanish driver of the boat was unhurt and was arrested, said the interior ministry, which announced an inquiry into the incident.
Human Rights Watch called for the investigation to begin immediately and urged the authorities to “disclose their findings publicly, and bring those responsible to justice.”
Internet users shared pictures of the dead student and called her “Hayat the martyr,” saying her only crime was attempting to leave a miserable life in Morocco to help her family.
“Moroccan civilians are killed in cold blood just because they want to leave this country of social disparities, poverty and repression,” the Moroccan Association of Human Rights in coastal city Nador said on Wednesday.
Morocco — a key route for sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe — said this month it has foiled 54,000 bids so far in 2018 by illegal migrants to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
The figures included 7,100 Moroccans for the period until the end of August, according to figures released last week by the Moroccan government spokesman.
Since early 2018, Spain has recorded more than 38,000 arrivals by sea and land, according to the International Organization for Migration.


Terror funding has ‘new face,’ warns Saudi Arabia's attorney general

Updated 31 min 26 sec ago
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Terror funding has ‘new face,’ warns Saudi Arabia's attorney general

  • Financial crimes a rising threat to global economy, MENA forum told

JEDDAH: The changing dynamics of terror financing and money laundering posed a growing problem for countries and organizations seeking to halt their spread, a regional conference in Cairo was warned.

Saudi Arabia's Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mua’jab told the first Middle East and North Africa conference on countering terrorism that new forms of transnational terror funding and money laundering demanded greater cooperation between states and organizations.

The conference, organized by the Egyptian Public Prosecution Office, aims to bolster international unity in the face of the escalating threat of terrorist financing and money laundering operations.

“Saudi Arabia has spared no effort in combating these two crimes,” Al-Mua’jab said.

He said money laundering and terror financing are at the “forefront of global criminal phenomena,” and often complemented each other.

“One of the most important steps the world has taken through its international and regional systems is to engage in initiatives and agreements to combat terrorism financing and money laundering as the artery of the criminal body that strikes the global economy,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner in the international coalition against the so-called Daesh terrorist organization and leads, together with the US and Italy, the Counter Daesh Finance Group. It has also implemented laws and procedures aimed at combating money laundering and terrorist financing,” he said.

Al-Mua’jab said the September 2018 report of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Saudi Arabia had praised the Kingdom’s commitment to the recommendations of the group.

“Saudi Arabia has spared no effort in combating these two crimes,” he said. “It was one of the first countries in the world to be affected by terrorist acts. Its experience of combating the crimes has been exemplary.”

He said measures taken by the Kingdom included the 2017 “Law of Combating Crime and its Financing,” regulation of charities and the establishment of a standing committee to investigate money laundering.

The Kingdom’s Public Prosecution Office recently released a manual outlining steps to counter money laundering, including measures for seizure and confiscation, tracking of funds and details of international cooperation. 

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has also issued a guidebook for Saudi banks to combat money laundering. 

A recent Saudi Cabinet meeting outlined strategic objectives for reducing the risks of the two crimes, he said.