ITF campaigns for Moroccan detainees ahead of legal hearing
28 June 2012
ITF continues campaigning for Moroccan detainees ahead of legal hearing
The ITF is continuing to show its support for detained Moroccan trade unionists Said Elhairech and Mohamed Chamchati ahead of their court hearing in Rabat on Monday 2nd July.
Elhairech, general secretary of the Syndicats UMT des Transports and chair of the ITF Arab world regional committee, and Chamchati, general secretary of the merchant seafarers’ union, were arrested on charges of sabotage and endangering national security. Both men have utterly denied the accusations.
ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) general secretary David Cockroft explained: “There is no doubt that a mistake has been made and that there is still time for it to be rectified. It is our earnest hope that justice will be done on Monday and both men released.”
He continued: “We continue to forcefully press our case to the Moroccan government that these detentions were a major error. We believe they spring from a backlash against the valuable work done by trade unions in helping all those seafarers stranded by the Comarit-Comanav failure. I personally asked Said to help those stranded seafarers and he did so magnificently. He was on ITF business and the ITF is backing him all the way.”
ITF president and chair of itsdockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin, added: "From Australia, from England, from Germany, from across the Mediterranean countries and the Arab World the message is being sent that a miscarriage of justice is a whisker away from being committed. These men have been caught up in a whirlwind of accusations – including, unbelievably, sabotaging ships, ports and national security – that stretch credulity well past breaking point. I don't see how any independent and fair minded court can do anything but free them."
He continued: “Earlier this year Moroccan prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane stressed the country’s respect for human rights. Continued detention on these heinous charges is incompatible with such a pledge.”
In an email message to his supporters Said said that he was feeling “proud and strong”.
The ITF has protested to the Moroccan government over the arrests, and its general secretary and president have approached Morocco’s ambassadors in the UK and Australia to push the case that a mistake has been made that can still be corrected. Meanwhile the organisation and its member unions have been showing their support through protests to Moroccan ministers and shows of solidarity with the two men (see www.itfglobal.org/solidarity/Said-Elhairech.cfm)