Human rights in Morocco

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Morocco’s human rights record is mixed. On the one hand, Morocco has made considerable improvements since the repressive Years of Lead under King Hassan II's reign (1961–99), but under his modernizing son, Mohammed VI, there are still complaints about abuses of power.

This article deals with Morocco and not the disputed Western Sahara. See Human rights in Western Sahara in that regard. Morocco administers 80% of the territory, hence Moroccan law applies to its "Southern Provinces".

Democracy and elections[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Politics of Morocco.

Morocco's most recent elections for the lower chamber of parliament in September 2002 and for local government councils in September 2003—were widely regarded as mostly free and fair, but in view of the dominant role of the king in politics, Moroccans lack the ability to change their government.

Freedom of expression[edit]

Main article: Media of Morocco

Freedom of the press is quasi-absent and many journalists are thought to practice self-censorship. Questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy or the actions of the King is a taboo and it is illegal to question the kingdom's "territorial integrity", i.e. the virtual annexation of the Western Sahara. In 2005 the well known Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet was "banned from practising journalism for 10 years" and fined 50,000 Dirhams (about 4,500 euros) for reporting about conflict in the Western Sahara, according to Reporters Without Borders. As of 2007 Lmrabet is still barred from working as a journalist. Many high-profile Moroccan journalists, such as Aboubakr Jamai, Ali Anouzla, Ahmed Benchemsi and Rachid Niny, have been reduced to silence through a combination of imprisonment, heavy fines, advertising boycott and distribution/withholding of state funds. Many online journalists were sentenced to prison to criticizing the King or denouncing rampant corruption by King-appointed governors. Their cases were much less publicised internationally because they were often young journalists writing for small publications or covering regional news (such as Mohammed Erraji from Agadir who was sentenced to 2 years in prison in 2010 for criticising the King's speech)

Between 2000 and 2007, with the appearance in the scene of a few independent francophone magazines, such as Tel Quel and Le Journal Hebdomadaire and their sister Arabic counterparts (e.g. Assahifa Al Ousbouia), government control over the media has moved somewhat from direct intervention to more subtle pressures, such as the use of lawsuits and libel cases.[1]

On May 2, 2007 the New York City-based NGO Committee to Protect Journalists published their annual report on the "10 countries where press freedom has most deteriorated" where it has reported that Morocco has "back slided" in terms of press freedom in 2007 after "having been considered as a leader in its region".[2] In the report, Morocco was considered, along with Tunisia, as the country which "sentences the most journalists to prison in the Arab world".

According to the 2013 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders has ranked Morocco 136 out of 179, a drop from the 89th position the country held in 2002[3]

Political persecution[edit]

Government repression of political dissent has dropped sharply since the mid-1990s. The previous decades are sometimes described as the Years of Lead (Les Années de Plomb), and included forced disappearances, killings of government opponents and secret interment camps such as Tazmamart. To examine the abuses committed during the reign of King Hassan II (1961–1999), the government has set up an Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER), which is to rehabilitate the victims, and pay compensation for state outrages against them.[4] This has been hailed internationally as a big step forward, and an example to the Arab world. However, the IER has also come under attack from parts of the human rights-community, since its mission was not to reveal the identities of or prosecute human rights offenders, which most of the victims were requesting.[5]

There are also persistent allegations of violence against Sahrawi pro-independence and pro-Polisario demonstrators[6] in Western Sahara, considered by Morocco as its Southern Provinces, and Morocco has been accused of detaining Sahrawi independentists as prisoners of conscience.[7]

In May 2006 a delegation from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) visited the disputed territory of Western Sahara and its report from the visit sharply criticized the lack of basic human rights in the region, in particular regarding the Saharawi population. The secret report has been leaked and can be found at for example ARSO.org.

Later the same year, in October, Morocco stopped a planned and earlier agreed visit of a delegation from the European Parliament. The decision came less than 48 hours before the delegation was to leave for Rabat and Western Sahara. The mission was to study alleged human rights violations from both Polisario and the Moroccan authorities.[8][9][10] (texts in English and French).

Morocco claimed that the majority of the members of the delegation were known supporters of the Polisario front, and thus the neutrality of the delegation was not assured. The president of the delegation, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, contested these allegations saying the composition of the group was not for Morocco to decide, and besides Morocco had already earlier accepted the composition of the group and had furthermore been allowed to influence its visiting program.

Freedom of religion[edit]

Freedom of religion is generally observed, with some limitations. Although Islam is the official state religion, Moroccans are permitted to practice other faiths, but it is illegal for Muslims to renounce Islam as long as they are minors.[citation needed] Therefore, restrictions apply to Christian proselytizing for minors.[citation needed] Political activities under the rubric of Islam are also restricted by the state. There still exists a Moroccan Jewish community, although most Jews emigrated in the years following the creation of Israel in 1948.

Social rights and equality[edit]

Children[edit]

In Morocco, thousands of children—predominantly girls and some as young as eight—work illegally in private homes as domestic workers, where they often encounter physical and verbal violence, isolation, and seven-day-a-week labor that begins at dawn and continues until late at night. They are poorly paid and almost none attend school. Domestic workers, including children, are excluded from Morocco’s Labor Code, and as a result do not enjoy the rights afforded to other workers, including a minimum wage or limit to their hours of work.

But under Moroccan family law ( 2004 mudawana) and Constitution (2012), It is illegal to have minor domestic workers. [11] [12]

Women and family[edit]

Main article: Mudawana

In 2004 the Moroccan parliament took steps to improve the status of women and children,[13] and has passed a new family law, Mudawanat al Usra (English Family Code), which is widely regarded as very progressive by regional standards. For example, men are now permitted only one wife unless their wife signs an agreement. In addition to being candidates in mixed electoral lists, women have a national list in parliamentary elections that allow them for at least 10% of the seats.

In parallel, and in September 2006, a national observatory to fight violence against women was founded. Many state departments, administrations, universities as well as national female associations are sought to coordinate efforts together.[14]

In 2006, the Moroccan citizenship was transferred to the children via the father. Soumya Naâmane Guessous, a Moroccan sociologist has launched a campaign for the transmission of Moroccan citizenship by the mother to her children. The ability for mother to pass their citizenship onto their children does not appear in the Mudawana code but was granted by a royal decision in October 2006.[15]

Recently, in 2009, new legislation has also allowed women to divorce their husbands without the consent of the husband.

Berber identity[edit]

Berber activists regularly contend that under the banner of Arabization, their unique language and culture are being repressed in favor of an Arab one. This is viewed as discrimination and method of marginalization.[16] However, on October 17, 2001 the Royal institute of the Amazigh culture was founded to maintain and develop the Amazigh languages and culture.

Police and army reforms[edit]

In 2006 Morocco started implementing a few reforms related to policing and the army. On October 16 of the same year a newly established Groupes urbains de sécurité (GUS) (Urban Security Groups) police unit was disbanded.

While many Moroccans regarded the presence of GUS as a relief, many others considered it as a step back to the rule of the Makhzen.[17]

The disbanding came after many criticisms about excesses or abuses of power were noted. Some irresponsible actions of certain members of the unit turned over the public opinion which became discreditory.

GUS were also accused of corruption. In many cases, civil offenders used to pay a bribe (between 10 and 20 dirhams) which led to the appearance of the popular nickname; "10 drahem".[18]

Capital punishment[edit]

Though theoretically capital punishment is still not abolished in Morocco, there has been only one execution since 1983, and it happened in 1993. 198 people were sentenced to death between 1956 and 1993, although there was an 11 year lull in executions between January 1982 and August 1993. Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) estimated 528 people were killed during Hassan II's reign in both judicial and extrajudicial executions.[19]

Discussing the issue in Morocco has been taboo for decades[citation needed]. However, human rights organizations and some liberal media outlets and left-wing political parties led by the Front of Democratic Forces have been attempting to start a capital punishment debate. As for societal and civil movements, blogs and websites have already started debating the issue.[20] The main and the newly created (2003) civil entity Coalition nationale pour l’abolition de la peine de mort au Maroc (CNAPM) (National coalition for the abolition of capital punishment in Morocco) which represents seven associations carrying the slogan Ensemble pour l'abolition de la peine de mort (Together against capital punishment) is also leading the debate.

At the political level the situation is paradoxical. Officially, the attitude of the current government is for "de facto" abolition. However, the Ministry of Justice has declared that terrorism is still an obstacle to "de jure" abolition[21] and death sentences are still being handed down, especially against terrorists. It should be noted that the abolition issue was recommended by the Board of the IER Equity and Reconciliation Commission.

In October 2006, it was announced that the issue is scheduled to be presented to the parliament for a vote in spring 2007. A political battle between moderate Islamist parties led by the Justice and Development Party (who advocate the death sentence[citation needed] as being consistent with Sharia laws) and leftist parties is expected to be difficult for both.

2006 CIA Black site controversy[edit]

Following the terrorist attack in Casablanca in May 2003, human rights groups accused Morocco of mistreating and torturing detainees. Some Moroccan and international media have also alleged that the country has established CIA internment camps ("black sites") on its territory, inside Temara interrogation centre where human rights violations are committed.[22] On September 2006, activists demanded that Morocco acknowledge the existence of such secret detention centers.[23]

Prior to that, Human Rights Watch's Vanessa Saenen had declared on 2005 We have information based on interviews from people who have been in Guantanamo Bay that there are secret detention centres. Even the US government doesn’t bother to hide this, and we have information from released prisoners on Jordan, on Morocco, on Egypt and Libya, but not on Romania and Poland.[24]

Human rights organizations and bodies[edit]

Historical situation[edit]

The chart shows of Morocco's ratings since 1972 in the Freedom in the World reports, published annually by Freedom House. A rating of 1 is "free"; 7, "not free".[25]1

International treaties[edit]

Morocco's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1.^ Note that the "Year" signifies the "Year covered". Therefore the information for the year marked 2008 is from the report published in 2009, and so on.
2.^ As of January 1.
3.^ The 1982 report covers the year 1981 and the first half of 1982, and the following 1984 report covers the second half of 1982 and the whole of 1983. In the interest of simplicity, these two aberrant "year and a half" reports have been split into three year long reports through interpolation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ How Morocco's free media is silenced - pendemocracy.net
  2. ^ "The 10 countries where press freedom has most deteriorated". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  3. ^ Press Freedom Index - http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=classement&id_rubrique=297
  4. ^ ICTJ Activity in Morocco - International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
  5. ^ Morocco's Truth Commission: Honoring Past Victims during an Uncertain Present: V. Constraints on the ERC - Human Rights Watch (HRW.org)
  6. ^ Western Sahara activists released, re-arrested in riots - Afrol News
  7. ^ Morocco/Western Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defender on trial - Amnesty International
  8. ^ Communique de press de le Parlement Europeen - European Parliament
  9. ^ Polémique autour de la délégation européenne «Sahara» - L'Economiste
  10. ^ Morocco evidently has a lot to hide - Socialist Group - European Parliament
  11. ^ "Moroccan Child Labor Report". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Morocco". US Department of Labor. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Text used in this cited section originally came from: Morocco profile from the Library of Congress Country Studies project.
  14. ^ New observatory to fight violence against women - AdnKronos International (AKI)
  15. ^ Kid of Alien Dad May Get Moroccan Nationality - Seoul Times
  16. ^ Prengaman, Peter (March 16, 2001). "Morocco's Berbers Battle to Keep From Losing Their Culture / Arab minority forces majority to abandon native language". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  17. ^ The Moroccan authoritative system during the rule of former King Hassan II
  18. ^ La police marocaine veut redorer son blason (French)
  19. ^ Morocco: Capital Punishment Could Be Killed - AllAfrica.com
  20. ^ peinedemortaumaroc.over-blog.com (French)
  21. ^ Abolir la peine de mort - Maroc Hebdo (French)
  22. ^ "MI6 and CIA 'sent student to Morocco to be tortured'". The Observer (London). December 11, 2005. 
  23. ^ Hamilton, Richard (September 28, 2006). "Morocco attacked on US rendition". BBC News. 
  24. ^ Is Europe being used to hold CIA detainees? - Radio Netherlands
  25. ^ Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  26. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 1. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Paris, 9 December 1948". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  27. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. New York, 7 March 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  28. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  29. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  30. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 5. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  31. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 6. Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  32. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 7. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. New York, 30 November 1973". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  33. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 18 December 1979". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  34. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 9. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  35. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, 20 November 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  36. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 12. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. New York, 15 December 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  37. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  38. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 6 October 1999". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  39. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  40. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11c. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  41. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  42. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  43. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 16. International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. New York, 20 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  44. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3a. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  45. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11d. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure . New York, 19 December 2011. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 

External links[edit]