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Cablegate: Advancing the Presidentqs Freedom Agenda In

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #0413/01 1301038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091038Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8532
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4767
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3593
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5964
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 3736
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 5016
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 9605
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 4059

UNCLAS RABAT 000413

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL/SEA, NEA/PI and NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KDEM EAID PREL MO
SUBJECT: ADVANCING THE PRESIDENTQS FREEDOM AGENDA IN
MOROCCO

REF: A. 07 STATE 108924
B. STATE 044903
C. STATE 019921

1. Summary: To further the PresidentQs Freedom
Agenda (Ref A), the Ambassador, DCM and other Mission
officers have met with a variety of activists and
interlocutors to highlight the importance of continued
democratic and human rights reforms in strengthening
MoroccoQs position as a moderate, democratic-leaning
regime. Among other successes, our outreach resulted
in MoroccoQs eventual agreement to permit international
observation of September 2007 parliamentary elections.
End Summary.

2. In order to maximize impact, the MissionQs
engagement has been built around the three elements
DRL PDAS Farrar identified as crucial to sustained
human rights progress: a) free and fair electoral
processes; b) representative, accountable, and
transparent democratic institutions of government; and
c) vibrant, independent civil societies, including
NGOs and free media. Per ref B request, below are
representative examples of mission engagement in these
key areas.

3. Free and Fair Elections: On July 10, 2007, the
Ambassador met with Ahmed Herzenni, former long-time
political prisoner and current head of the
Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH), the
national body that advises the Government of Morocco
(GOM) and King on human rights questions. They
discussed a variety of human rights issues, including
the need for Morocco to allow international
observation of the September 2007 parliamentary
elections as a sign of improved transparency. The
Ambassador and the Mission as whole had been engaging
on this topic for several months with the broader
Government, but within seven days of the meeting with
Herzenni, the GOM announced an agreement between the
CCDH and the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute
to manage an international election observation
effort.

4. Transparent Democratic Institutions: The GOM,
civil society, and the international community have
all identified corruption as one of the key obstacles
to continued reform in all fields. The Ambassador has
made anti-corruption one of his highest priorities.
As part of his engagement on the issue, he sought out
members of Transparency Maroc (TM), the Morocco
affiliate of Transparency International. TM has
boycotted official contact with Embassy personnel for
over two years as a protest over some of the USGQs
Middle East policies. The Ambassador was able to work
out a mutually satisfactory agreement for an
informal/unofficial meeting on February 5 with TMQs
Chairman at the Ambassdor's residence that resulted in
a constructive discussion on corruption as a human rights
issue. Furthermore, the Ambassador engaged directly with
leaders and members of the newly elected Parliament, a
keystone of the Mission's democracy promotion strategy.

5. Rule of Law: To promote the rule of law in
Morocco, the U.S. is training judges and working with
the Ministry of Justice to improve prison conditions.
The Ambassador has also worked closely with the
American Bar Association to support its efforts to
promote the rule of law.

6. Vibrant Civil Society: As part of our broader
efforts to support civil society and encourage
activists, the Ambassador met on July 10 with
President of the Moroccan Organization for Human
Rights Amina Bouayach. Bouayach, a prominent activist
who speaks out on a variety of issues including
womenQs rights, prison conditions, freedom of
expression and police brutality, thanked the
Ambassador for USG support for freedom and democracy
but also challenged the Ambassador on perceived
inconsistencies in the field of human rights in its
relations with Morocco. The frank but respectful
discussion that followed is similar to events with

other activists and civil society representatives.
The Ambassador regularly meets with civil society
activists in Rabat, Casablanca, and throughout
Morocco including advocates for women's, children's,
and disability rights. For his part, the DCM
recently began a series of speeches on human rights
for student groups in Rabat and Sale. Ongoing USAID
and public diplomacy programs support party and
parliamentary strengthening, good governance
especially at the municipal and provincial levels,
and training for journalists.

7. Free Media: The Ambassador has also spoken out
clearly and often on the need to protect freedom of
the press in Morocco. During a live television
interview on March 11, 2008, on the occasion of the
publication of the Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for 2007, the Ambassador explicitly
mentioned press freedom as an area for concern and
improvement. The Ambassador and the Mission have
also repeatedly advocated the passage of a new press
code that would decriminalize defamation, and he has
voiced opposition to restrictions on opinion polling.

8. Comment: Both before and after the PresidentQs
2007 Prague speech (Ref A), the Ambassador and other
staff engaged with the Government and civil society at
all levels to encourage continued progress on reforms.
Through our annual Human Rights Dialogue with the
Government and contacts with activists, we participate
in constructive and sometimes pointed discussions on
human rights issues, including Western Sahara, where a
higher degree of abuses persists. We will continue
our contacts and relationships with activists and
civil society members to further the PresidentQs
Freedom Agenda. End Comment.

*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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