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Morocco Activists Slam African Migrant Treatment

Morocco expels 14,000 immigrants every year, according to the Anti-Racist Group to Defend Foreigners and Migrants, known by its French initials GADEM.

Many end up stuck in Morocco and can be seen begging on the streets or selling contraband in back alleys â¿¿ a charge defense lawyers say police tried to lay on Camara because of his activist work.

Camara was preparing a report accusing security forces of violence against migrants, including murder, when he was arrested, said Abdessalam Belafhel, president of the Rabat chapter of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights.

His attorney, Lekbir Lmssegeum, said Camara signed a police report written in Arabic that inflated the number of cigarettes and alcohol police said to have found.

"Camara signed a statement he couldn't read because he does not read Arabic. He admits to having 20 packs of cigarettes and in the report, the police wrote 240 packs," he said. During Friday's court session, a charge of forgery was added by authorities claiming the defendant had falsified the papers he used to gain residency.

Estimates in the press for the number of black Africans living illegally in Morocco range from 10,000 to 25,000, though Camille Denis, a coordinator with the GADEM anti-racism group, noted that little fuss is made about the thousands of Europeans, especially French and Spanish who fled the economic crisis in Europe to work in Morocco.

"Many thousands of Europeans travel to Morocco (to work) illegally but oddly enough this does not seem to pose any problem to Moroccan authorities," she said.

____

Associated Press reporter Paul Schemm contributed to this story.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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