Morocco: The case of former police officer, Ouahiba Khourchech, submitted to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women

Stop violence

On 22 December 2023, Alkarama submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, the case of Ms Ouahiba KHOURCHECH, a former Moroccan police officer, and her minor daughter, both victims of multiple gender-based violations. 

On 16 May 2023, Alkarama had submitted a first communication to the UN Special Procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, to inform them  of the violations  of their rights suffered by Ms. KHOURCHECH and her daughter following the dissemination on social networks and television channels of photos and video montages filmed without their knowledge in their hotel room. 

Victim of harassment while in office 

Ms KHOURCHECH joined the ranks of the National Security Service in 2003 and a few years later was appointed Head of the Department for the Fight against Violence against Women. Paradoxically, it was during her duties that she herself was sexually harassed by her supervisor. 

Refusing to remain silent, in August 2016 she initiated administrative and judicial proceedings to denounce the treatment to which she was subjected. In response, the General Administration of National Security (DGSN), refusing to acknowledge the existence of any crime, not only suspended her from her duties, but went so far as to file a complaint against her for "insulting public officials in the exercise of their missions and against constituted bodies" and "slanderous denunciation of fictitious crimes". 

Infringements of her right to privacy 

In an attempt to obtain justice, Ms KHOURCHECH then appointed Mohamed Ziane, a particularly courageous and committed lawyer, former Minister of Human Rights and former President of the Bar of Rabat. Known for his criticism of the government's security policy and his denunciation of corruption, the victim's 80-year-old lawyer, now arbitrarily imprisoned, has himself become a target of the intelligence services who have done everything possible to destroy his reputation. 

To this end, the intelligence services resorted to particularly reprehensible tactics by editing and disseminating on social networks a video in which Ms KHOURCHECH appears in a hotel room with her daughter and her lawyer, Mohamed Ziane, with whom she allegedly had an extramarital relationship. Ms KHOURCHECH said that she had been blackmailed into denouncing the practices of which she had been subjected and thus silencing her. 

She then sought the expertise of the National Center for Audio and Video Forensics (NCAVF), a Los Angeles-based forensic digital media laboratory licensed in the United States, which clearly demonstrated in the report prepared by forensic expert Matthew "Motti" Gabler that the video broadcast was indeed a montage. 

Refusing to bow to blackmail and threats and fearing for her life and that of her family, Ms KHOURCHECH was finally forced to flee Morocco and settle permanently in the United States. 

Alkarama refers the matter to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women 

In its recent complaint to the Special Procedures, Alkarama pointed out that the violence suffered by Ms KHOURCHECH can be qualified as gender-based sexual violence and harassment that began with the sexual harassment of her superior and then took the form of harassment and cyber-harassment also affecting her minor daughter. These violations were committed either directly by state agents or indirectly by media platforms considered  to be close to the intelligence services. 

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) had defined gender-based violence against women as undermining or nullifying their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and constituting discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention, whether perpetrated by a State official or by a private citizen.  in public life or in private life. 

Alkarama stressed that all the acts suffered by Ms KHOURCHECH were aimed at silencing her, and to persuade her to withdraw her allegations of harassment against her former supervisor and drop the case she had brought. It was her perseverance in seeking justice for herself and for other women who had been victims of harassment and whom she had been able to support throughout her career that led to the many acts of retaliation against her.

Addressing the United Nations Special Procedures, Alkarama called on the Moroccan authorities to immediately cease all measures of reprisals and pressure against Ms Ouahiba KHOURCHECH and certain members of her family, to conduct independent and impartial investigations against the perpetrators of the harassment and the authors of videos edited and disseminated to discredit her and to punish them according to the gravity of their acts.