How France 'caved in' to Morocco over torture row

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Last week French Members of Parliament took the first step towards approving a brief accord on judicial cooperation between France and Morocco. On the face of it, this seems a routine agreement; but behind this protocol lies more than a year of bitter discord between the two countries over attempts by a French judge to question the head of the Moroccan internal intelligence agency over allegations of complicity in torture. After lengthy and sometimes fruitless attempts to broker an end to the dispute, led by French president François Hollande in person, Paris hopes that the deal on judicial cooperation will put the seal on recently-improved bilateral relations. But the wording of the new text has been bitterly opposed by human rights groups who say it is deeply damaging to the independence of France's judges and courts, and who claim that the French authorities have capitulated to the demands of their Moroccan counterparts. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.

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Human rights groups have accused the French authorities of capitulating to pressure from their Moroccan counterparts over a new agreement on judicial cooperation between the two countries. Last Tuesday, June 16th, Members of Parliament on the National Assembly's foreign affairs committee backed the accord, which Paris hopes will bring a definitive end to more than a year of bitter discord between the two nations. However critics say the measure could undermine the independence of French judges and courts and will mean that victims of alleged crimes at the hands of Moroccan authorities will be too afraid to make formal complaints in France. “In the face of Moroccan demands, France has completely caved in,” says lawyer Patrick Baudouin, honorary president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).