(Tunis) – Human Rights Watch issued the following statement on October 2, 2015, in response to a demand from the Moroccan government to suspend Human Rights Watch activities in the country:

Human Rights Watch is disappointed with the demand from the Morocco government’s spokesman in a letter dated September 23, 2015, that Human Rights Watch suspend its activities in the country, and with the letter’s unspecified accusations of bias. The government published a version of this letter in a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on October 2.

For 25 years, Human Rights Watch has worked to promote respect for human rights in Morocco and Western Sahara without significant obstacles from the government.  Human Rights Watch reports on human rights conditions have benefitted from input by, and meetings with, numerous government officials.

The demand to suspend activities comes after the Moroccan government imposed restrictions on Amnesty International, including the expulsion in June 2015 of two of its staff members, and stepped up restrictions on domestic human rights organizations, notably the Moroccan Association for Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch has responded to a recent request from government officials to meet, offering a range of dates in the coming days, and hopes that Morocco will return quickly to being among the countries that remain open to independent human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch.

In any event, Human Rights Watch will continue to monitor and report on the compliance by Moroccan authorities with international human rights treaties and standards.