[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 116 (Friday, July 29, 2011)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1442-E1443]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 MOROCCO: ANSWERING THE CALL FOR REFORM AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

                                  _____
                                 

                        HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, July 29, 2011

  Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to my 
colleagues today about the relationship between the United States and 
Morocco. Today, with chaos and conflict spreading in North Africa and 
the Middle East, it is important that the United States recognize and 
encourage those countries that share our democratic values and support 
reforms so badly needed in the region. There is no better friend and 
ally for America in North Africa than the Kingdom of Morocco.
  You may ask, ``How has the country fared during the recent crises in 
the region?'' Morocco has largely avoided the tensions, confrontations, 
and violence common to other countries. There have been few 
disturbances in the country; and demonstrations for better governance, 
more transparency, and jobs have been largely peaceful and 
constructive.
  Ties between the Moroccan people and the King are quite strong and it 
is this bond that supports the partnership that the King has called for 
in the process to reform the constitution through a consultative 
process and national referendum--steps unheard of in other parts of the 
Arab Middle East and North Africa.
  Recently, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Taieb 
Fassi Fihri, visited the United States to talk about the reform process 
in Morocco, and to consult with United States government officials 
about how to bring greater stability, security, development, and 
democracy to the region. He met with senior officials in the White 
House and State Department. On March 23, Secretary of State Hilary 
Clinton met with the Foreign Minister to discuss concrete steps to 
renew and strengthen the strategic relationship between the United 
States and Morocco. She called it a ``very special relationship,'' and 
praised the King for his continuing actions to promote reform and 
enhance economic, political, and social development in Morocco and the 
broader region.
  As Secretary Clinton remarked, ``We also look forward with great 
optimism to further deepening our strong and strategic partnership in 
working with Morocco on so many issues.'' Among the areas discussed 
with the Foreign Minister were cooperation on resolving the Western 
Sahara conflict and promoting Human Rights.
  With regard to the Western Sahara, the Secretary reiterated that the 
Obama Administration policy is consistent with that of the two previous 
administrations; and that the Moroccan autonomy proposal for resolving 
the conflict was ``serious, realistic, and credible.'' The Foreign 
Minister provided the U.S. government with an update on recent progress 
in promoting Human Rights and was advised by the State Department that 
the new reforms were largely satisfactory and met U.S. government 
concerns.
  Among the key changes already launched by Morocco in December 2010 
are new and independent institutions and collateral mechanisms to 
promote human rights in all areas of Morocco, including the Sahara, 
protecting whistle blowers, providing authority to bring charges 
against human rights violators, and setting up new channels for 
reporting human rights abuses. Additionally, a stronger level of human 
rights protections are included in the constitutional reforms proposed 
by the King in his speech of March 9, 2011.
  From an international reporting perspective, the new process adopted 
by Morocco will link the new Moroccan Human Rights institutions with 
the various Special Rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Commission.
  Unfortunately, others who either lack this information or chose to 
ignore it are supporting a monitoring proposal that ignores the core 
issues of the Western Sahara conflict: supporting and respecting the 
rights of the refugees held in the camps in Tindouf, Algeria. The 
proposal does nothing to address much

[[Page E1443]]

more serious issues at stake in Western Sahara concerning terrorism, 
and trafficking in persons, guns, drugs and other contraband.
  Morocco has met the State Department's criteria for enhanced human 
rights protection and reporting, and should be applauded for taking 
this initiative as part of its continuing reform process and desire to 
improve the lives of all Moroccans, including the Western Sahara. 
Morocco is working hard to become the standard bearer for progress, 
reform, and development in the region. We should do all we can to 
support these vital efforts.

                          ____________________