Human Rights

Human Rights – the information below is quoted directly from the Human Rights Watch 2011 world report on Morocco and Western Sahara. (

Criminal justice: Courts seldom provide fair trials in cases with political overtones. Judges routinely ignore requests for medical examinations from defendants who claim to have been tortured, refuse to summon exculpatory witnesses, and convict defendants on the basis of apparently coerced confessions.

Freedom of Assembly/Association: Morocco boasts thousands of independent associations, but government officials arbitrarily impede the legalization of some organizations, undermining their freedom to operate. Groups affected include some that defend the rights of Sahrawis, Amazighs (Berbers), sub-Saharan immigrants, and unemployed university graduates, as well as charitable, cultural, and educational associations whose leadership includes members of Justice and Spirituality, a nationwide movement that advocates for an Islamic state and questions the king’s spiritual authority. The government, which does not recognize Justice and Spirituality as a legal association, tolerated many of its activities but prevented others.

Freedom of the press: Morocco’s independent print and online media investigate and criticize government officials and policies but face prosecution and harassment when they cross certain lines. The press law includes prison terms for “maliciously” spreading “false information” likely to disturb the public order or for speech that is defamatory, offensive to members of the royal family, or that undermines “Islam, the institution of the monarchy, or territorial integrity,” that is, Morocco’s claim on Western Sahara. Moroccan state television provides some room for investigative reporting but little for direct criticism of the government or for dissent on key issues. In May the Ministry of Communication announced that foreign stations, which have a large viewership in Morocco, must obtain authorization before filming outside the capital. The ministry refused for the second straight year to accredit two local Al Jazeera correspondents without providing a reason and then, on October 29, announced the suspension of the channel’s activities in Morocco on the grounds that the channel “seriously distorted Morocco’s image and manifestly damaged its greater interests, most notably its territorial integrity,” an apparent allusion to Western Sahara.

International involvement: In 2008 the European Union gave Morocco “advanced status,” placing it a notch above other members of the EU’s “neighbourhood policy.” Morocco is the biggest Middle Eastern beneficiary of EU aid after Palestine, with €580 million (approximately US$808 million) earmarked for 2011-2013. France is Morocco’s leading trade partner and source of public development aid and private investment. France increased its Overseas Development Assistance to €600 million for 2010-2012. France rarely publicly criticized Morocco’s human rights practices and openly supported its autonomy plan for Western Sahara.The US provides financial aid to Morocco, a close ally, including a five-year $697 million grant beginning in 2008 from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. On human rights, the US continued to publicly praise Morocco’s reform efforts and advances made by women. The State Department’s Counterterrorism Report for 2009 sent Morocco the wrong signal by favorably noting its convictions of alleged terrorists without mentioning the repeated fair-trial violations in such cases. Officials from the US embassy in Rabat told Human Rights Watch that they urged Morocco to reform its press code, provide due process to expatriate Christians facing expulsion, and apply its law on associations more consistently, including by recognizing Sahrawi human rights NGOs that currently lack legal status.The UN Security Council in April 2010 renewed the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for one year but once again declined to enlarge that mandate to include human rights observation and protection. Morocco opposes giving MINURSO such a mandate, whereas the Polisario says it supports it.

King Mohammed VI announced in 2008 that Morocco would lift its reservations to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, but that has yet to happen at this writing. Morocco has not ratified the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court or the Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearances, although it helped to draft the latter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s