Tech & Rights

Belgium's Complicit Silence in Aarrass Torture Case

Ali Aarrass, Belgian and Moroccan citizen detained and tortured in Morocco, has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. It's time Belgium stands up for the rights of one of its own.

by David Morelli
Ali Aarrass, a Belgian and Moroccan citizen, was extradited to Morocco by Spain in 2010.
Moroccan authorities tortured him in order to extract a confession of terrorist complicity.
In 2012 he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Ali Aarrass began his sixth hunger strike on August 25 in Salé Prison II in Morocco. Today, after more than 50 days on a hunger strike, Ali Aarrass’s health is worrying.

The conditions of detention place him in a situation of physical and psychological abuse, as he is determined to continue his hunger strike until the Belgian authorities meet his demands:

  • That the Belgian government demands and obtains the report or findings of the investigation into his torture, including a medical examination in accordance with international standards, as required by the UN Committee Against Torture in May 2014.
  • That the Belgian government puts pressure on Moroccan authorities; after a whole year they have still not responded to the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the local Belgian consul to visit Aarrass. Prohibiting the official from visiting is a direct violation of international law. Belgium must react to this lack of response. Our authorities cannot stop the mistreatment and restore respect for the basic rights of the detainee until a response is received.
  • That the Belgian government demands his immediate release in accordance with the recommendations from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

No excuse for the indifference

Ali Aarrass has not been definitively tried and his pre-trial detention now exceeds the reasonable period provided for under law. His immediate release after nearly eight years in custody is the least that can be done before a fair trial.

There is now an international campaign to free Ali Aarrass and condemn torture though acts of humiliation, beatings, insults, provocations and other degrading treatment, revealed in part by a video shown by the campaign.

His dual nationality cannot continue to be an excuse for the indifference of the Belgian state, which selects the citizens who deserve assistance and relegate the others to an area of lawlessness where injustices are silent.