[QODLink]
Inside Story

The shame of a royal pardon

As Morocco's king revokes a controversial pardon for a paedophile, we examine the problem of sex tourism in the kingdom.

Last Modified: 06 Aug 2013 10:43
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Morocco's King Mohamed VI has bowed to angry protests and revoked a controversial pardon granted to Daniel Galvan Vina, a Spanish paedophile convicted of raping 11 children aged between the ages of four and 15.

In a deal struck with Spain's King Juan Carlos, Galvan was released after serving just two years of his 30-year sentence. He was among 48 Spanish prisoners pardoned by the Moroccan king and freed last week after the Spanish king visited Morocco in mid-July.

I think what happened is a sad story. An error. I think that Morocco has a strong civil society that voices out people's concerns. This is the first time that civil society opposes a decision taken by the king .... This is the first time in Morocco that a sexual abuser has been imprisoned for 30 years, and then two years later is released in such a way [that] people couldn’t accept that.

Driss Ksikes, the director of the web journal Economia

The pardon sparked outrage across Morocco when it was announced. And on Friday night, baton-wielding police dispersed several thousand people who tried to protest in front of the parliament in Rabat.

On Monday, King Mohamed sacked the country's prison chief after an inquiry blamed his department for Galvan's release, while a palace statement said: "The inquiry concluded that the said administration inadvertently provoked erroneous information about the criminal record of the prisoner in question when requested by the royal court."

But the issue is particularly sensitive in a country that has seen several high-profile paedophile arrests in recent months. The country has, in recent years, been targeted by paedophiles and sex tourists because of its poverty and relative closeness to Europe. By day, landmarks like Marrakech's Jemaa el-Fna are bustling cultural centres, but by night, they become ideal places for Western child molesters to seek their victims.

One study suggests that nearly half of all child sexual abuse complaints in Morocco involve foreign perpetrators. And in May, public opposition to sexual violence against children prompted thousands of people to march through the streets of Casablanca.

The case has provoked outrage and embarrassment in both Morocco and Spain, as questions are asked of both sides.

"We want to know why they asked for the Moroccan king to pardon this person, and how it was possible to renew his passport so quickly, allowing him to travel to Spain," Antonio Hernando, a Spanish opposition politician told Al Jazeera. 

So, just what will happen to Galvan now? And how can Morocco tackle sex tourism and paedophilia?

Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hannah, is joined by guests: Miguel-Anxo Murado, a political analyst and writer; Dorothy Rozga, the executive director of ECPAT, an international NGO committed to ending the commercial and sexual exploitation of children; and Driss Ksikes, an author and playwright and director of the web journal Economia.

"This has been a source of embarrassment for the king of Spain because this pardon happened ... in the context of an official visit ... by the king of Spain to Morocco. And when the king of Spain came back, he, or rather his press office, was taking credit ... for pushing forward this pardon ... and then, of course, the royal house had to backtrack."

- Miguel-Anxo Murado, a Spanish political analyst

582

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.
join our mailing list