Human rights in Morocco


Human rights in Morocco

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 Western Sahara. See Human rights in Western Sahara in that regard.

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 relatively good compared with most other North African and Middle Eastern countries, though many journalists are thought to practice self-censorship. Questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy is a taboo. The debate on political Islam is severely restricted 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 [http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13186 Reporters Without Borders] . As of 2007 Lmrabet is still barred from working as a journalist.

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 (i.e. "Assahifa Al Ousbouia"), government control over the media has moved somewhat from direct intervention to more subtle pressures, such as the use of law suits and libel cases. [ [http://www.opendemocracy.net/people-protest/morocco_3460.jsp "How Morocco's free media is silenced " - pendemocracy.net] ]

On May 2, 2007 the New York-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". [cite web |url=http://www.cpj.org/backsliders/index.html |title="The 10 countries where press freedom has most deteriorated" |accessdate=2007-05-30 |format= |work=Committee to Protect Journalists ] In the report, Morocco was considered, along with Tunisia, as the country which "sentences the most journalists to prison in the Arab world".

Political persecution

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 du 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. [ [http://www.ictj.com/mena/morocco.asp "ICTJ Activity in Morocco" - International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)] ] 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. [ [http://hrw.org/reports/2005/morocco1105/6.htm#_Toc119468378 "Morocco's Truth Commission: Honoring Past Victims during an Uncertain Present: V. Constraints on the ERC" - Human Rights Watch (HRW.org)] ]

There are also persistent allegations of violence against Sahrawi pro-independence and pro-Polisario demonstrators [ [http://www.afrol.com/articles/18566 "Western Sahara activists released, re-arrested in riots" - Afrol News] ] in Western Sahara, considered by Morocco as its Southern Provinces, and Morocco has been accused of detaining Sahrawi independentists as prisoners of conscience. [ [http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/document.do?id=ENGMDE290072006 "Morocco/Western Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defender on trial" - Amnesty International] ]

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 [http://www.arso.org/OHCHRrep2006.htm 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. [ [http://www.arso.org/declarationMEP051006.htm#pres "Communique de press de le Parlement Europeen" - European Parliament] ] [ [http://www.leconomiste.com/article.html?a=73643 "Polémique autour de la délégation européenne «Sahara»" - L'Economiste] ] [ [http://www.socialistgroup.org/gpes/press.do?id=25313&lg=en "Morocco evidently has a lot to hide" - Socialist Group - European Parliament] ] (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. Although Islam is the official state religion, Moroccans are permitted to practice other faiths, but it is illegal for Muslims to renounce Islam. Therefore, restrictions apply to Christian proselytizing. 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.

Further|History of the Jews in Morocco , "Christianity in Morocco", "Roman Catholicism in Morocco"

Social rights and equality

Women and family

In 2005 the Moroccan parliament took steps to improve the status of women and children,Text used in this cited section originally came from: [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Morocco.pdf Morocco profile] from the Library of Congress Country Studies project.] and has passed a new family law, "Mudawana", which is widely regarded as very progressive by regional standards. For example, men are now permitted only one wife, as opposed to four as permitted in the Qu'ran. 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. [ [http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.345412041&par=0 "New observatory to fight violence against women"] - "AdnKronos International" (AKI)]

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. [ [http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=2290 "Kid of Alien Dad May Get Moroccan Nationality"] - "Seoul Times"]

Berber identity

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. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/16/MN145053.DTL%20 Morocco's Berbers Battle to Keep From Losing Their Culture / Arab minority forces majority to abandon native language ] ] However, in October 17, 2001 the Royal institute of the Amazigh culture was founded to maintain and develop the Amazigh languages and culture.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality in Morocco is illegal according to article 489 of the Penal Code and can be punished with anything from 6 months to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of 120 to 1200 Dirhams. Nevertheless, the law is seldom enforced, and homosexual activity is fairly common, especially in the holiday resorts.Fact|date=February 2007 Relationships are often visibly displayed and money often plays a role where sex is involved. In the community homosexuality remains a taboo and is considered immoral.

Police and army reforms

In 2006 Morocco started implementing a few reforms related to policing and the army. In October 16 of the same year a newly established "Groupes urbains de sécurité" (GUS) ( _en. 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. [The Moroccan authoritative system during the rule of former King Hassan II]

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". [ [http://www.afrik.com/article8319.html "La police marocaine veut redorer son blason"] fr icon]

Capital punishment

Though theoretically capital punishment is still not abolished in Morocco, there has been only one execution in the last 25 years, 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 persons were killed during Hassan II's reign in both judicial and extra-judicial executions. [ [http://allafrica.com/stories/200610040132.html "Morocco: Capital Punishment Could Be Killed"] - "AllAfrica.com"]

Discussing the issue in Morocco has been taboo for decadesFact|date=March 2007. 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. [ [http://peinedemortaumaroc.over-blog.com/ "peinedemortaumaroc.over-blog.com"] fr icon] The main and the newly created (2003) civil entity Coalition nationale pour l’abolition de la peine de mort au Maroc (CNAPM) ( _en. 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" ( _en. 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 [ [http://www.maroc-hebdo.press.ma/MHinternet/Archives_574/html_574/abolir.html "Abolir la peine de mort"] - "Maroc Hebdo" fr icon] 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 sentenceFact|date=March 2007 as being consistent with Sharia laws) and leftist parties is expected to be difficult for both.

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, where human rights violations are committed. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1664612,00.html "MI6 and CIA sent student to Morocco to be tortured" - The Observer] ] On September 2006, activists demanded that Morocco acknowledge the existence of such secret detention centers. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/5390646.stm "Morocco attacked on US rendition" -BBC News Online] ]

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". [ [http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/region/internationalorganisations/eur051125 "Is Europe being used to hold CIA detainees?" - Radio Netherlands] ]

Jail Sentence of Fouad Mourtada controversy

On Tuesday, February 5th, 2008, Fouad Mourtada was arrested for the alleged creation of a fake Facebook profile of Prince Moulay Rachid. Mr Mourtada told family members who visited him in jail that he had been blindfolded and beaten unconscious at the time of his arrest.

Despite numerous profiles of other celebrities (41 Nicolas Sarkozy, 10 Prince William of England, Jacque Chirac, Roger Federer, George W Bush, etc) on Facebook, on February 23rd, Fouad Mourtada was sentenced to 3 years in jail for the alleged creation of the fake Facebook profile and fined 10,000 Dirhamrs (~1,350 US Dollars).

On the evening of March 18, 2008, Fouad was released by a royal pardon after spending 43 days in jail.

Human rights organizations and bodies

* Association Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme (AMDH) - a non-profit human rights non-governmental organization founded in June 24, 1979
* Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (OMDH) - a non-profit human rights non-governmental organization founded in December 10, 1988
* Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme (CCDH) - a governmental human rights body founded by late King Hassan II

ee also

* List of human rights articles by country
* Human rights in Western Sahara

External links

* [http://www.amnestyusa.org/By-Country/Morocco-and-Western-Sahara/page.do?id=1011203&n1=3&n2=30&n3=953 Amnesty International USA - Morocco and Western Sahara] includes links to annual reports
* [http://hrw.org/doc?t=mideast&c=morocc Human Rights Watch - Morocco]
** [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/morocc12228.htm 2006] annual report
** [http://hrw.org/reports/2005/morocco1105/index.htm Morocco's Truth Commission: Honoring Past Victims during an Uncertain Present] , November 2005
* [http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/84/ International Freedom of Expression Exchange - Morocco] - IFEX
*United State Department of State - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
** [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100496.htm 2007] [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61695.htm 2005] Morocco
** [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/102555.htm 2007] [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61702.htm 2005] Western Sahara
* [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Morocco.pdf United States Library of Congress – Country Profile: Morocco] Federal Research Division, May 2006

Notes and sources

References

*


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Human rights in Western Sahara — IntroductionMorocco sees Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces, and has been claiming it since its independence in 1956. Morocco considers the Polisario Front as a separatist movement given the Moroccan origins of many of its leaders, and a… …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights in Israel — have been evaluated by various non governmental organizations and individuals, often in relation to the ongoing Arab Israeli conflict and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. When analyzing Israel s human rights records, most observers agree that it …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights commission — A Human Rights Commission is a body set up to investigate, promote and/or protect human rights. The term may refer to international, national or subnational bodies set up for this purpose, such as national human rights institutions or (usually… …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights in the United States — In 1776, Thomas Jefferson proposed a philosophy of human rights inherent to all people in the Declaration of Independence, asserting that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that… …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights in the United Kingdom — The United Kingdom has a long and established tradition of avowed respect for its subjects human rights. At the same time, the UK, like many nations, has also had a history of both de jure and de facto racial and ethnic religious discrimination,… …   Wikipedia

  • Human rights in Africa — The situation of human rights in Africa is generally reported to be poor, and it is seen as an area of grave concern according to the UN, governmental, and non governmental observers. Democratic governments seem to be spreading, though are not… …   Wikipedia

  • Human Rights: The Status of Women — ▪ 1995       The discrimination and violence experienced by women diverged significantly in 1994 from the vision of freedoms set out in the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document called for such basic individual… …   Universalium

  • LGBT rights in Morocco — Law against gaysArticle 489 of the Penal Code of Morocco criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.” [http://www.gaywired.com/article.cfm?section=123 id=17549] Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and can be punished… …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations Human Rights Council — The United Nations Human Rights Council is an international body within the United Nations System. Its stated purpose is to address human rights violations. The Council is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which was… …   Wikipedia

  • National human rights institutions — (NHRIs) are administrative bodies set up in to protect or monitor human rights in a given country. The growth of such bodies has been encouraged by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) which has provided… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.