Morocco/Western Sahara

Authorities have tightened restrictions on human rights groups, both domestic and international. Many in Morocco and Western Sahara serve long prison terms after unfair trials for politically motivated offenses. Laws that provide criminal penalties for “harming” the monarchy, Islam, or “territorial integrity” (Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara) restrict freedom of expression and association. Authorities often tolerated protest demonstrations, but in Western Sahara systematically prevented gatherings supporting self-determination for that territory. More positively, a new law took effect that ended military trials of civilians, and. Morocco granted temporary legal status to United Nations-recognized asylum-seekers and thousands of economic migrants, pending an overhaul of its laws governing asylum and foreigners on Moroccan soil.