Christians Deported from Morocco Fight to be Reunited with Orphans

Court rules against Village of Hope, reversing ruling that it was a legal entity.

ICC Note:

The expulsion of aid workers from the Village of Hope (VOH) orphanage casted a dark shadow over the cases of all foreign nationals that were deported from Morocco in 2010. The ruling verdict reflected poorly on the values and basic fairness of the Moroccan justice system and courts, being not only an injustice to the VOH staffers but also a callous disregard of the interests of the 33 children who regarded the VOH staff as their family. Today, VOH workers continue their struggle to return to Morocco and will take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary, Morning Star News reports.

5/31/2013 Morocco (Morning Star News) – Expatriate Christians who ran an orphanage in Morocco until they were deported on charges of proselytism said yesterday they will take their fight to be reunited with the children to the Supreme Court if necessary.

An appellate court earlier this month delivered a verbal ruling in favor of the Moroccan government, which had deported Village of Hope staff members – many of whom lived with and raised the orphans as “foster” parents – and their birth children in 2010 as part of a larger purge of Christians from the country. The May 7 ruling by the Administrative Court of Rabat stated that Village of Hope has no legal status to file any claims. Village of Hope seeks to resume operation of the orphanage, near Ain Leuh, 50 miles south of Fez.

Village of Hope workers said there is still uncertainty about the appellate court ruling.

“The problem with news about the court case is that we have no written verdict of the court as yet, and so we do not know exactly what has been decided by the court, and more importantly what the motivation of the judge(s) is/has been,” said Herman Boonstra, one of the Village of Hope workers. “Whatever the case may be, our lawyers will be ready to take it to Supreme Court level if necessary.”

The state’s appeal this month came after an October 2012 oral ruling, released in writing in January, stipulating that the association was a legitimate legal entity with the right to seek legal redress of grievances. The May 7 ruling could shatter the group’s legal claim to the orphanage, which is operating under state-appointed leadership, and enable the government to control the assets of Village of Hope, valued at more than $1 million, former workers said.

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