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ITF delegation steps up pressure to release imprisoned Moroccan union leader
26 July 2012
An ITF delegation is in Morocco to step up pressure on the Moroccan government to release from prison trade union leader Said Elhairech.
Mukhtar Hili from Tunisia, member of ITF’s executive board, and Dockers’ Section Secretary Frank Leys is holding a series of high-level meetings and attempting to visit Said in prison. They are working closely with Meiloudi Mukhareq, general secretary of the Moroccan national trade union centre, UMT, to which Said’s dockers’ union is affiliated.
Frank Leys said:
“Despite his being imprisoned for more than 40 days on ridiculous and politically motivated charges, we are told that Said is in good health and his morale is high. We are going to the prison today to try to see him.
“We are relieved that the submission today by his new, ITF-appointed lawyer of a formal legal request for his provisional release meant that Said has decided to postpone his threatened hunger strike.
“We are, however, frustrated that Said’s judicial hearing has been postponed because another stage of the investigation has been ordered. A number of witnesses have given evidence already, including the former Mayor of Tangier, Samir Abdelmoula.
“Said was arrested on charges of endangering national security, which he completely denies. In fact, the charges recast the excellent work Said did at ITF’s request to help abandoned Comarit-Comanav crews.
“Said should never have been imprisoned in the first place and must be released as a matter of urgency. We are using every opportunity during our visit to urge the government to make real their assurances that justice will be done for Said.
”We are very appreciative of the role the ITF’s Arab world region has played in mounting the campaign to free Said and hope that the global trade union family will soon be able to celebrate his release.”
Frank Leys added: “At all times, the UMT has been clear that it welcomes foreign companies investing in Morocco as long as working conditions, freedom of association and collective bargaining do not suffer as a result.”
Notes to editors:
1. Said Elhairech is also the chair of the ITF Arab World regional committee.
2. Said was charged with offences against article 288, which has been used against many trade unionists when a single employer submits a complaint to the authorities. The UMT continues to campaign for the article’s removal from Moroccan law.
For more information contact Dee Sullivan, who is temporarily covering for Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
International Transport Workers' Federation - ITF:
ITF House, 49 - 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
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