Human rights in Morocco
|This article is outdated. (November 2013)|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Morocco’s human rights record is mixed. On one hand, Morocco has made considerable improvements since the repressive Years of Lead under King Hassan II's reign (1961–99). Under Mohammed VI, it has improved its record. There has been a greater degree of modernisation, and more rights have been granted to the population in general, and particularly women and children.
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".
- 1 Democracy and elections
- 2 Freedom of expression
- 3 Political persecution
- 4 Freedom of religion
- 5 Social rights and equality
- 6 Police and army reforms
- 7 Capital punishment
- 8 2006 CIA Black site controversy
- 9 Human rights organizations and bodies
- 10 Historical situation
- 11 International treaties
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Democracy and elections
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
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 questioning the kingdom's "territorial integrity" (i.e. the virtual annexation of the Western Sahara) is illegal. 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.
On May 2, 2007 the New York City-based NGO Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published their annual report on the "10 countries where press freedom has most deteriorated" where it reported that according to CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon; "Democracy's foothold in Africa is shallow when it comes to press freedom" and that Morocco was among the "Top 10 Backsliders" in 2007 after "having been considered as a leader in its region". In the report, Morocco was considered, along with Tunisia, as the country which "sentences the most journalists to prison in the Arab world".
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. 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.
There are also persistent allegations of violence against Sahrawi pro-independence and pro-Polisario demonstrators in Western Sahara, considered by Morocco as its Southern Provinces, and Morocco has been accused of detaining Sahrawi independentists as prisoners of conscience.
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. (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
Freedom of religion is generally observed, with some limitations. According to the spokesman for the Moroccan government, "the Kingdom does guarantees not only freedom of worship, but also the building of places of worship for Christians and Jews as well as performing their rituals freely and respectfully.".
Although Islam is the official state religion, Moroccans are permitted to practice other faiths, and apostasy for Muslims is not illegal. However, the Supreme Council of Religious Scholars (which is the "sole instance permitted to comment on religious consultations" according to the Constitution) decreed apostates should be put to death. It is illegal to proselytise for religions other than Islam (article 220 of the Penal Code, 15 years' imprisonment).
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
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.
Women and family
In 2004 the Moroccan parliament took steps to improve the status of women and children, 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.
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.
Recently, in 2009, new legislation has also allowed women to divorce their husbands without the consent of the husband.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2008)|
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
Discussing the issue in Morocco has been taboo for decades. 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. 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 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 as being consistent with Sharia laws) and leftist parties is expected to be difficult for both.
In April 2015, the Minister of Justice and Liberties (PJD government) made a public announcement about a bill relative to capital punishment, among other subjects. The goal is to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death penalty, from 31 to 11.
2006 CIA Black site controversy
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. On September 2006, activists demanded that Morocco acknowledge the existence of such secret detention centers.
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.
Human rights organizations and bodies
- Association Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme (AMDH) - a non-profit human rights non-governmental organization founded on 24 June 1979
- Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (OMDH) - a non-profit human rights non-governmental organization founded on 10 December 1988
- Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme (CCDH) - a governmental human rights body founded by late King Hassan II
- Annakhil Association for Women and Children (AEFE) - an independent, non-profit NGO in the Tensift-El Haouze region in the south of Morocco with an aim to improve the social, legal, economic and sanitary situation of women and children by offering a framework for reflection and resolution of problems. 
- Ligue marocaine de la défense des droits de l'homme (LMDDH) - a non-profit human rights non-governmental organization founded in 1972
- Association des droits numériques (ADN) - a non-profit digital rights non-governmental organization founded in 2014
Morocco's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:
- Amina Filali
- LGBT rights in Morocco
- List of human rights articles by country
- Human rights in Western Sahara
- 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.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.
- How Morocco's free media is silenced - pendemocracy.net
- "The 10 countries where press freedom has most deteriorated". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- Press Freedom Index - http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=classement&id_rubrique=297
- ICTJ Activity in Morocco - International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
- Morocco's Truth Commission: Honoring Past Victims during an Uncertain Present: V. Constraints on the ERC - Human Rights Watch (HRW.org)
- Western Sahara activists released, re-arrested in riots - Afrol News
- Morocco/Western Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defender on trial - Amnesty International
- Communique de press de le Parlement Europeen - European Parliament
- Polémique autour de la délégation européenne «Sahara» - L'Economiste
- Morocco evidently has a lot to hide - Socialist Group - European Parliament
- "Le prosélytisme est un "acte condamnable", selon l'archevêque catholique de Rabat". Maghreb Arab Press (in French). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Laws Criminalizing Apostasy (PDF). Library of Congress (May 2014).
- Saeed, A.; Saeed, H. (2004). Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam. Ashgate. p. 19. ISBN 9780754630838. Retrieved 2014-10-10.
- "Une famille française arrêtée pour prosélytisme à Marrakech". bladi.net (in French). Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Moroccan Child Labor Report". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- "Morocco". US Department of Labor. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- Text used in this cited section originally came from: Morocco profile from the Library of Congress Country Studies project.
- New observatory to fight violence against women - AdnKronos International (AKI)
- Kid of Alien Dad May Get Moroccan Nationality - Seoul Times
- 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.
- The Moroccan authoritative system during the rule of former King Hassan II
- La police marocaine veut redorer son blason (French)
- Morocco: Capital Punishment Could Be Killed - AllAfrica.com
- peinedemortaumaroc.over-blog.com (French)
- Abolir la peine de mort - Maroc Hebdo (French)
- "Mustapha Ramid: la révision du Code pénal vise à moderniser la justice pénale". PJD (in French). Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "MI6 and CIA 'sent student to Morocco to be tortured'". The Observer (London). December 11, 2005.
- Hamilton, Richard (September 28, 2006). "Morocco attacked on US rendition". BBC News.
- Is Europe being used to hold CIA detainees? - Radio Netherlands
- "Moroccan human rights groups" (PDF). Amnesty International. 1991. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- "Arab Human Rights Index"
- Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Amnesty International USA - Morocco and Western Sahara includes links to annual reports
- Human Rights Watch - Morocco
- 2006 annual report
- Morocco's Truth Commission: Honoring Past Victims during an Uncertain Present, November 2005
- International Freedom of Expression Exchange - Morocco - IFEX
- United State Department of State - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- United States Library of Congress – Country Profile: Morocco Federal Research Division, May 2006