RABAT - Members of parliament in Morocco back a parliamentary probe into a secret detention centre near Rabat, a senior politician announced Monday, a day after a demonstration by youths wanting it closed.
"We are favourable to opening a commission of inquiry into this centre, even though no decision has been taken," Ahmed Zaidi, the head of the parliamentary group of the government coalition, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), said.
"Among MPs, we are discussing it and exchanging views," he added.
Zaidi's announcement came after the ministry of justice decided to open an inquiry at the headquarters of the Moroccan domestic intelligence service, the DST, which supposedly runs the Temara detention centre.
The justice department "has given instructions to the state prosecutor to open the necessary investigations into the site" close to the capital, Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said, in a statement welcomed by MPs.
"We have already lodged a request for the constitution of a commission of inquiry into this centre. Now, after Mr Naciri's statement, anything becomes possible," said Lahcen Daoudi, head of the parliamentary group of the Islamist opposition Justice and Development Party.
More than 10 people were injured on Sunday when police broke up a demonstration by about 100 youths of the February 20 Movement, named for the date of the first popular uprising to press for change in the north African kingdom.
The protestors wanted to demonstrate outside the headquarters of the DST, denouncing the detention centre believed to be based there and demanding its closure and respect for human rights.
Several non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, have denounced reported abuses of human rights inside the detention centre.
In a report published on October 25 last year, HRW asserted that people suspected of terrorist offences "are detained in a secret centre near Rabat, and are detained beyond the 12-day legal maximum in custody under the anti-terrorist law" of 2003.
According to HRW, DST agents "participate actively in the incarceration of people suspected of terrorism, their detention and their interrogation."
The HRW report was partly based on interviews conducted with people who had been detained between 2007 and 2010, and with their relatives. It includes a response from the Moroccan government, which HRW welcomed, but Rabat said there was no secret detention centre.