Report on Human Rights Practices for 2001
The Constitution provides for a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent
judiciary; however, ultimate authority rests with the King, Mohammed VI,
who presides over the Council of Ministers, appoints or approves many
members of the Government, and may, at his discretion, terminate the tenure
of any minister, dissolve the Parliament, call for new elections, and
rule by decree. Since the constitutional reform of 1996, the bicameral
legislature consists of a lower house, the Chamber of Representatives,
which is elected through universal suffrage, and an upper house, the Chamber
of Counselors, whose members are elected by various regional, local, and
professional councils (members of whom are elected directly). The lower
house of Parliament also may dissolve the Government through a vote of
no confidence. In March 1998, King Hassan named a coalition government
headed by opposition socialist leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi and composed
largely of ministers drawn from opposition parties. Prime Minister Youssoufi's
Government is the first government drawn primarily from opposition parties
in decades, and also represents the first opportunity for a coalition
of socialist, left-of-center, and nationalist parties to be included in
the Government. The November 1997 parliamentary elections were held amid
widespread, credible reports of vote-buying by political parties and the
Government, and excessive government interference. The fraud and government
pressure tactics led most independent observers to conclude that the results
of the election were heavily influenced, if not predetermined, by the
Government. After a long appeals process, some of the results were overturned
by the Constitutional Council in 2000, and new by-elections were held.
In September 2000, the Government reported that various political parties
had engaged in vote buying and fraud during indirect elections to replace
one-third of the 270 seats in the Chamber of Counselors, Parliament's
upper house. The judiciary is subject to government influence and some
members of the judiciary accepted bribes; however, the Youssoufi Government
continued to implement a reform program aimed at developing greater judicial
independence and impartiality.
The security apparatus includes several overlapping police and paramilitary
organizations. The Border Police and the National Security Police are
departments of the Ministry of Interior; the Judicial Police falls under
the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice; and the Royal Gendarmerie
reports to the Palace. Some members of the security forces continued
to commit serious human rights abuses, although such abuses decreased
somewhat during the year. While there were some well-publicized prosecutions
for abuses by security forces, the failure to prosecute most other cases
raised concerns regarding the Government's commitment to resolving the
The country has a population of approximately 30,120,000. The economy
is based on large phosphate reserves, a diverse agricultural sector,
fisheries, a sizable tourist industry, a growing manufacturing sector
(especially textiles), and a dynamic, deregulated telecommunications
sector. Citizens working abroad are a source of considerable remittances.
The illegal production and export of cannabis also is a significant
economic activity, particularly in the north. Economic growth is highly
dependent on agricultural output, which has been affected adversely
by three consecutive years of worsening drought. According to the Government's
statistics, the real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was $1,181
in 2000, and the Government expected an increase of 6.1 percent in 2001.
The Government generally respected the rights of its citizens in most
areas; however, the Government's record was generally poor in a few
areas. Citizens do not have the full right to change their government.
While then-King Hassan II's appointment of a first-ever opposition coalition
government in 1998 marked a significant step toward democratization,
officially recognized corruption and vote-buying in the September 2000
Chamber of Counselors elections constituted a notable setback. There
is one report of a suspicious death in police custody, and a number
of prisoners died while incarcerated. Despite progress by the Government,
human rights groups continued to call for full disclosure of all available
information concerning citizens abducted by the Government from the
1960's through the 1980's. Some members of the security forces beat
protesters on several occasions, although the extent of such abuses
was more limited than in the past. Prison conditions remain harsh but
continued slowly to improve. Authorities, at times, arbitrarily arrested
and detained persons. The judiciary was subject to Interior Ministry
influence and some members of the judiciary accepted bribes. Human rights
organizations and activists continued to allege a lack of due process
in high-profile court trials. Sixty-four member of the Islamist Justice
and Charity Organization (JCO) and 36 human rights activists were sentenced
to between 3 months and 1 year in prison plus fines, for their participation
in protests held in December 2000 to celebrate the International Day
of Human Rights. In July the Government quickly prosecuted on extremely
questionable grounds a former intelligence agent who had made embarrassing
assertions regarding the disappearance from Paris in 1965 of socialist
leader Mehdi Ben Barka, a leading socialist and opposition figure. The
Royal Arbitration Commission that the King established in 1999 to indemnify
former political prisoners and their families continued to adjudicate
cases and pay compensation.
At times authorities infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government's
record on press freedom remained inconsistent during the year, although
it improved over 2000. While the Government permitted extensive coverage
of formerly taboo topics, it systematically restricted press freedom
on several specific topics that it considered sensitive, and on which
journalists continued to practice self-censorship, including criticism
of the Monarchy, Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara, and the sanctity
of Islam. The Government censored and banned several domestic and foreign
publications during the year. The Government limited freedom of assembly
and association. In several incidents throughout the year, police beat
and violently dispersed demonstrators although police broke up fewer
demonstrations than in the past. The Government limited freedom of religion.
Although non-Muslim foreigners may practice their religions freely,
missionaries who proselytized faced expulsion, and converts from Islam
to other religions continued to experience social ostracism. The Government
monitored the activities of mosques. The Government at times restricted
freedom of movement and withheld the granting of passports for foreign
travel. Human rights awareness training continued for teachers and police
personnel. In April Amnesty International Secretary General Pierre Sane
"applauded the progress recorded by Morocco in the field of human
rights," although he urged more progress concerning political prisoners
and past cases of disappearance.
Domestic violence and discrimination against women were common. Teenage
prostitution was a problem in urban centers. Berbers faced cultural
marginalization, and continued to press the Government to preserve their
languages and culture. On October 17, the King established an institute
to promote Berber culture. The Government violated worker rights, subjecting
unions to government interference, restricting the right to strike and
the right of workers to form unions, and using security forces to break
up strikes. Child labor was a problem, and the Government did not act
strongly enough to end the plight of young girls who were illegally
employed and subjected to exploitative and abusive domestic servitude.
Trafficking in persons, particularly child maids, was a problem.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports of politically motivated killings.
On February 20 in Sale, a person died in custody as a result of police
abuse. A policeman was tried on October 26 and convicted of torture
resulting in death. He has appealed the conviction; the court has not
yet handed down its sentence at year's end.
In January 2000, Ali Akzkane died while in police custody in Tiznit.
The Inspector General of the National Security Police investigated the
matter. The investigation determined that Akzkane had been suffering
from depression and had committed suicide in his jail cell. The autopsy
was not made public. The Government did not file any charges (see Section
In July 2000, a Royal Armed Forces patrol took Mustapha Najaiji and
another person into custody. According to the other person, the patrol
beat Najiaji at a Ministry of Interior holding cell. Najiaji later fell
down, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing, at which time the security
forces released the second person. The security forces reported Najiaji
committed suicide by hanging himself. The second person later claimed
Najiaji died from beatings by the security forces. The Moroccan Association
of Human Rights (AMDH) reported that the autopsy indicated that Najiaji
had been the victim of violence before his death, and expressed concern
regarding the slow pace of the investigation. No charges were filed
in the case during the year and the investigation was ongoing at year's
end (see Section 1.c.).
Police authorities stopped Farah Mohammed near Oujda in 1999. Eyewitnesses
reported he was beaten and kicked into unconsciousness. He later died
in police custody. In August 1999, three police and security officers
were arrested in the case. They were convicted of torturing Mohammed
and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
After a lengthy delay, the trial of three policemen accused of manslaughter
in the 1996 death of Hassan Mernissi resumed in September 2000. The
prosecution maintained that Mernissi was beaten to death while in detention.
The defendants maintain that Mernissi was drunk and knocked his head
against the cell bars until he died. The autopsy indicated that he bled
to death. After a 2-year investigation, the case finally went to trial
in September 2000, was delayed until March, and was still pending at
Human rights groups maintained that poor medical care in prisons results
in unnecessary deaths. The National Prison Administration continues
to allow prison site visits by human rights groups, the press, and foreign
diplomats (see Section 1.c.).
There were no new cases of confirmed disappearance for the sixth consecutive
year. However, the AMDH claimed that the continued practice of incommunicado
detention without informing family members of those detained was evidence
of the continued practice of forced disappearance (see Section 1.d.).
The forced disappearance of individuals who opposed the Government
and its policies occurred during several decades. The Youssoufi Government,
upon taking office, pledged that such policies would not recur, and
that it would disclose as much information as possible on past cases.
Many of those who had disappeared were implicated in attempts to overthrow
the Government in 1971 and 1972, or were Moroccans or Sahrawis (inhabitants
of former Spanish Protectorate of Western Sahara) who challenged the
Government's claim to the Western Sahara or other government policies.
Many of those who disappeared were held in secret detention camps. The
Government has provided information and death certificates regarding
many of those who had disappeared over the years. However, hundreds
of Moroccan and Sahrawi families do not have any information about their
missing relatives, many of whom disappeared over 20 years ago. Authorities
stated that they have released information on all confirmed disappearance
After years of denying that Sahrawis were imprisoned in Morocco for
Polisario-related military or political activity, the Government released
more than 300 such prisoners in 1991. Entire families, and Sahrawis
who had disappeared in the mid-1970's, were among those released. The
Government has failed to conduct a public inquiry or to explain how
and why those released spent up to 16 years of incommunicado detention
without charge or trial. The former Sahrawi detainees have formed an
informal association whose principal objective is to seek redress and
compensation from the Government for their detention. A delegation of
this association continued to meet with various government officials,
human rights organizations, members of the press, and diplomatic representatives
in both Rabat and in Laayoune during the year. They reported that little
progress has been made in gaining the Government's recognition of their
Since October 1998, the Royal Consultative Council on Human Rights
(CCDH) has been releasing information regarding cases of disappearance.
However, human rights groups and families continue to claim hundreds
more cases of disappearances than the Government, which lists only 112.
Many disputed disappearances are from the Western Sahara. On April 13,
the King issued a decree expanding the CCDH's mandate to allow it to
investigate cases on its own initiative. The decree also directed the
CCDH to submit its own annual report on the human rights situation in
Morocco, and created an annual human rights prize. The decree enhanced
autonomy by changing the composition of the council to decrease the
number of slots for political parties and unions from 18 to 9, and increase
the number for economic, social and cultural associations; however,
the King nominates all persons on the Council. In addition decision
making was changed from requiring a unanimous vote to a two-thirds majority.
The decree also changed the status of ministerial delegates from voting
to advisory members. Thus, the influence of the Ministry of the Interior
and the Ministry of Justice is significantly reduced. Moroccan human
rights organizations favored these changes and helped argue for them,
although some groups do not feel the changes went far enough.
The CCDH also is responsible for assisting the Arbitration Commission
in providing compensation to victims of past human rights abuses, or
their surviving family members. In July 2000, the Government, through
the Arbitration Commission of the CCDH, began distributing preliminary
compensation payments to Sahrawis who had disappeared or been detained
in the past, and their family members. The Government announced that
it intended such initial payments to be provisional funds for Sahrawis
with urgent medical or financial needs who had appealed for compensation
by December 31, 1999, and that more compensation could be distributed
pending the results of the Commission's review of petitions by Sahrawi
claimants. However, numerous cases remain pending. In an interview,
CCDH President Driss Dahak claimed that as of June 22, the commission
had settled 609 cases of disappearances, paying compensation in 376.
It also had paid compensation in 712 cases of arbitrary detention and
had turned down 233 applications. According to the CCDH, as of late
September, over 5,000 applications had been filed, including multiple
applications for each person who had disappeared. By year's end, the
Arbitration Commission had awarded approximately $45 million (495 million
dirhams) in compensation, including employment assistance and medical
Nevertheless, human rights organizations maintain that the compensation
process is neither independent nor transparent, that it provides insufficient
compensation, and that it precludes appeal. Some groups also criticized
the small number of cases settled, citing that thousands remained. The
CCDH claimed that it has completed the disappearance and Sahawri cases
and currently was investigating individual claims, which take longer.
On November 7, prior to a national meeting on human rights, the AMDH,
the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights (OMDH) and Moroccan Forum
for Truth and Justice (FMVJ--created by victims of forced disappearance
and their surviving family members) proposed the creation of an independent
commission to determine the truth in past cases of human rights violations.
Several international organizations attended the meeting, as well as
14 Moroccan political parties and organizations.
Associations that seek information regarding those who have disappeared,
including the FMVJ, an executive coordinating committee of former Sahrawi
political prisoners, and a group specifically representing Tazmamart
prison survivors, operate openly, and call upon the Government for full
disclosure of events surrounding cases that date back to the 1960's.
Several front-page articles in newspapers affiliated with parties in
the governing coalition called at various times during the year for
full disclosure on all outstanding cases of disappearance. The associations
also called for compensation to families of those who have disappeared,
death certificates and the return of the remains of those who died,
and prosecution of responsible officials. The Government had indicated
in recent years that it would be more open to providing information
regarding these past cases. However, it now claims to have released
all the information it possesses, an assertion that several human rights
NGO's dispute. Throughout the year, FMVJ leaders met with leaders of
national political parties, although the FMVJ claimed in 2000 that political
parties were reluctant to help them address past disappearances. Associations
in the Western Sahara that seek information on disappearances were not
free from government interference; there were reports that some members
of these associations were harassed and intimidated while seeking information
regarding missing Sahrawis. Some also continued to be denied passports
(see Section 2.d.).
On January 16, activist Abdelkarim Manouzi claimed that some of the
disappeared persons still unaccounted for were alive and in Government
custody. However, he offered no evidence. On November 10 and 11, a committee
of families of abducted persons staged a hunger strike to protest "the
procrastination of the authorities in replying to the crucial requests
of the families of abducted people."
Beginning in October 2000, the Government has permitted an organization
of former political detainees, as well as hundreds of human rights activists,
to travel to and hold remembrance ceremonies at the notorious former
secret detention center at Tazmamart, whose existence the authorities
formerly denied (see Section 2.a.). The press is now free to write stories
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits torture, and the Government claims that the use of
torture has been discontinued; however, some members of the security
forces still tortured or otherwise abused detainees. The Penal Code
stipulates sentences up to life imprisonment for public servants who
"use or oblige the use of violence" against others in the
exercise of their official duties. By law, pretrial-investigating judges
must, if asked to do so or if they themselves notice physical marks
that so warrant, refer the detained person to an expert in forensic
medicine. However, according to legal experts affiliated with human
rights groups, judges often ignored this requirement in practice. While
there were some well-publicized prosecutions for abuses by security
forces, the failure to prosecute most other cases raised concerns regarding
the Government's commitment to resolving the problem.
On February 20, a person died after police reportedly abused him while
in custody (see Section 1.a.).
In January 2000, Ali Akzkane died while in police custody in Tiznit.
The Inspector General of the National Security Police investigated the
matter. The investigation determined that Akzkane had been suffering
from depression and committed suicide in his jail cell. The Government
did not file any charges (see Section 1.a.).
Following his release from prison in May 2000 after a royal pardon,
Sadok El-Kihal, a trucker and regional bureau member of the Istiqlal
party's General Union of Moroccan Workers (UGTM), contacted the AMDH.
He claimed that authorities had arrested arbitrarily, jailed, tortured,
and falsely convicted him in June 1999 following his participation in
a national truckers' strike. El-Kihal alleged that security forces in
the Gendarmerie of Taouriate (Oujda province) tortured him for almost
24 hours, suspending him by his arms for extended periods while beating
his fingers and feet. El-Kihal also alleged to AMDH that members of
the Gendarmerie tied his hands behind his back, bent him backward on
his knees, and applied pressure to his stomach while fingers were forced
down his throat. El-Kihal alleged that two adjutants in the Gendarmerie
participated in his torture. El-Kihal claimed that his jailers wrote
a false police report, which they forced him to endorse with his thumbprint
without first allowing him to read. He alleged that this police report
formed the basis of his conviction at the Oujda court of appeals, which
sentenced him to 2 years' imprisonment. No charges were filed based
on his allegations during the year. At year's end, the investigation
of El-Kihal was ongoing (see Sections 1.d., 1.e., and 6.a).
In July 2000, a Royal Armed Forces patrol took Mustapha Najiaji and
another person into custody. According to the other person, the patrol
beat Najiaji at a Ministry of the Interior holding cell. Najiaji later
fell down, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing, at which time
the security forces released the second person. The security forces
reported that Najiaji committed suicide by hanging himself. The second
person later claimed Najaiji died from beatings by the security forces.
The AMDH reported that the autopsy indicated that Najiaji was the victim
of violence before his death, and expressed concern over the slow pace
of the investigation. No charges were filed in the case during the year.
The investigation of Najiaji was ongoing at year's end (see Section
In August 2000, the media reported allegations by Abderrahmane Jamali
that police officers in the Ain Sebaa-Hay Al-Hassani station in Casablanca
had tortured him for 3 days, once in the presence of a citizen who had
filed a complaint against him. Press reports alleged that the incident
began when the plaintiff twice filed a complaint against Jamali for
abuse of confidence and theft. After the prosecutor dismissed the first
complaint for lack of proof, the plaintiff requested a reopening and
more thorough investigation of the case. Press reports alleged that
Jamali subsequently was detained, tortured for 3 days, and then convicted
and sentenced by a Casablanca court to 5 months' imprisonment. Jamali
reportedly fainted during the sentencing hearing, and became ill within
days of his incarceration. After his family sent a letter to the prison
director requesting the director's intervention, he was sent to various
medical facilities. At Averroes Hospital, doctors in August 2000 detected
an infection allegedly transmitted by parasites found on rodents. According
to the Party of Progress and Socialism's French-language daily newspaper
Al-Bayane, doctors also found signs of "physical cruelty"
on Jamali's body. The marks reportedly included contusions and bruises
on his neck and knees. A doctor at Averroes wrote a letter to Al-Bayane
claiming that the infection Jamali contracted "does not explain
all of the signs that we observed during (his) clinical examination."
Jamali later filed complaints against three agents of the judicial police
for torture; the Casablanca police department announced in August 2000
that it had opened an investigation into the charges. Some newspapers
called for an investigation into the court's handling of the case because
the judge and prosecutor allegedly failed to inquire into the detainee's
fragile state of health, as required by law. No charges were filed in
this case during the year, and the investigation was ongoing at year's
In September 2000, the media reported on two cases of alleged torture
by a Royal Gendarmerie officer in Zaio. According to the reports, the
officer tortured two persons in order to extort money from their family
and friends. In one of the cases, a cafe owner alleged that the officer
slapped him in September 2000 in front of his customers, used force
to remove him from his establishment, and subjected him to various forms
of torture at brigade headquarters. In the second case, an elderly woman
brought suit against the same officer for torturing her son and extorting
approximately $450 (5,000 dirhams) from her to stop the torture. After
he was informed of the cases, Zaio's municipal president (who also is
a Member of Parliament) reportedly referred the cases immediately to
the national authorities. An investigation into the alleged torture
cases was ongoing at year's end; no charges have been filed in either
In 2000 the OMDH appealed to the Interior Minister to implement a series
of proposed measures, including measures reinforcing individual protections
against torture through the full implementation of the Convention Against
Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
providing for the destruction of police files on former political prisoners
or exiles, and ending illegal punitive detention measures by local authorities.
According to the OMDH, torture in detention largely continues to escape
the notice of the judiciary. The OMDH noted that the implementation
of judges' instructions on eliminating the use of torture has been "exceedingly
slow." While the OMDH admitted that the use of torture has diminished
over the years, it claimed that it has not disappeared. The OMDH alleged
in its report that those who commit such abuses "do so with impunity
in almost all cases." The NGO called on the Government to harmonize
domestic law with its responsibilities under the U.N. Convention Against
Torture, to ensure full independence for the judiciary, and to punish
those who resort to torture.
An investigation remains ongoing into charges of police abuse of protesters
and persons in custody during late 1999 in Laayoune. No charges were
filed in connection with the abuse and the investigation was closed.
A Sahawari student claimed to have been tortured with burning cigarettes
by police during detention following large-scale demonstrations by mostly
Sahrawi students near the Marrakech University campus in May 2000. A
university student arrested in Rabat following solidarity protests with
Sahrawi students in May 2000 claimed to have been beaten severely and
interrogated regarding his links with other Sahrawi students and human
rights activists; charges against him and 13 others were dismissed in
November 2000. Due to OMDH's efforts, the allegations in these cases
were investigated; however, no charges were filed as a result.
The Government continued to admit past torture and abuses; however,
it has not prosecuted those responsible. In 2000 the Government permitted
publication of "The Unachieved Past," regarding the harsh
conditions in the Kenitra high security prison (the author has since
been awarded a literary prize from the King himself for his most recent
novel). The authorities also permitted publication of a comic book called
"They Even Starve Rats," which vividly recounted the torture,
injustice, and humiliation that the author and others suffered at the
hands of the authorities (see Section 2.a).
In early January, Ahmed Marzouki published a book, "Tazmamart:
Cell 10," about his 18 years as a prisoner at the notorious Tazmamart
prison. The book described Marzouki's ordeal, including the cruelty
of the guards, torture, solitary confinement, and the perpetual darkness.
Marzouki finally was granted a passport on January 17 (after a public
appeal to the King), and allowed to travel to Paris and publicize his
book. The government-owned television station, 2M, carried an interview
with Marzouki (see Section 2.a. and 2.d.).
Police and security forces reportedly used excessive force to disrupt
a number of protests and demonstrations during the year, although such
incidents declined in comparison to the previous year. On April 17,
the police reportedly used excessive force to disperse taxi drivers
in Rabat and Sale who were conducting a peaceful protest against what
they considered unreasonably large fines imposed by the police. The
taxi union criticized the Government's action. Seventeen persons reportedly
were injured (see Section 2.b.).
On May 3, five demonstrators reportedly were injured when police violently
disrupted sit-in by unemployed graduates outside the Employment Department
in the Western Saharan city of Laayoune (see Section 1.d.). On November
14, security forces using clubs broke up an attempted a sit-in by striking
teachers in front of the Ministry of Finance in Rabat. According to
press reports, some of the strikers were injured seriously (see Sections
2.b. and 6.a.).
Prison conditions remain harsh, although there have been some improvements
in medical care and overcrowding. Credible reports indicate that harsh
treatment and conditions continue, often as a result of chronic overcrowding.
Despite being designed to hold 4,000 inmates, Oukacha Central Prison
in Casablanca currently holds more than 7,000 prisoners. Human rights
groups allege that poor medical care in prisons results in unnecessary
deaths. In addition to extreme overcrowding, malnutrition and lack of
hygiene continue to aggravate the poor health conditions inside prisons.
According to a February article by the newspaper Liberation, most prisons
lack adequate medical care and supplies for prisoners, with the exceptions
of the prisons at Sale and Casablanca. Almost one half of prisons do
not have a full-time doctor, and new inmates are not provided a screening
physical. However, 42 physicians now work full-time for the prison system,
compared with 2 in 1988. Extremely harsh conditions have been reported
inside the detention center of Ain Atiq outside of Rabat. While Ain
Atiq's status as a detention or social center is not defined clearly,
it often receives homeless, vagrant, and persons with mental disabilities,
in addition to juvenile delinquents. Negligence at Ain Atiq reportedly
has led to serious problems, such as hygienic and nutritional deficiencies,
and harsh general living conditions. The center also is reportedly underequipped,
understaffed, and unable to provide adequate medical care. In the past,
human rights organizations have called for Ain Atiq's closure, as well
as of other similar centers.
In an article in May, Liberation reported the results of 15 visits
to prisons conducted by the Moroccan Prison Observatory (OMP) between
February and July 2000. The NGO reported that the Moroccan prisons housed
55,000 prisoners, despite being designed to hold only 39,000. It also
reported problems of corruption, drug use, and violence. The report
also criticized the prisons for mixing young, first-time offenders with
hardened criminals, as well as the lack of training and education for
inmates. In response the Ministry of Justice claimed that the OMP arrived
at its conclusions without visiting all the prisons. It also noted that
12 of the existing 43 prisons are being enlarged and 19 more prisons
are under construction.
The Ministry of Justice's Penitentiary Administration, which administers
all Moroccan civil prisons, uses the services of 126 doctors. Prisoners
have benefited from vaccination programs, and the prison medical budget
has grown 61 percent since 1998. The Penitentiary Administration has
autopsied deceased inmates since 1993. The Administration also was examining
alternatives to incarceration for some criminals.
In May the AMDH issued a communique reporting that 14 prisoners had
died in Ukasha (also spelled "Oakacha") Prison in Casablanca
during 2000, and that 11 had died through May 15. The AMDH claimed that
the cause was diseases contracted by the prisoners, all of which were
"the result of the inhuman and unhealthy conditions of the Ukasha
prison." The AMDH also requested investigations into the deaths.
The Government did not respond. On October 2, the newspaper Al Ahdath
Al-Maghribiyah followed up with an article entitled "Will an Investigation
Ever Take Place on the Causes of Death in Ukasha Prison?" According
to the article, some prisoners blamed poor sanitary conditions in Ukasha
for the increasing deaths there. The article claimed the doctor assigned
to care for 8,000 prisoners spent only half days at the prison and neglected
prisoner's health needs.
On March 30, the prison in Kenitra invited doctors, journalists, and
members of the OMP for the observance of "Spring of Prisoners"
day, designed to improve prison conditions through public awareness.
Also in late March, the National Prison Administration hosted a visit
by an international women's group (including a diplomatic and international
spouse association) to the women's wing of Sale Prison. Near the end
of the year, during Ramadan, the King made an unprecedented prison visit
to observe conditions.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention or Exile
The Constitution does not prohibit arbitrary arrest or detention, and
police continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention. Although legal
provisions for due process have been revised extensively in recent years,
reports indicate that authorities sometimes ignored them. Although police
usually make arrests in public and during the day, they do not always
identify themselves and do not always obtain warrants. Preventive detention
is limited to 48 hours, with one 24-hour extension allowed at the prosecutor's
discretion. In state security cases, the preventive detention period
is 96 hours; the prosecutor also may extend this time. Defendants are
denied access to counsel during this initial period, which is when the
accused is interrogated and abuse or torture is most likely to occur.
Some members of the security forces, long accustomed to indefinite precharge
access to detainees, continue to resist the time limits, which were
adopted in 1997.
The police are required to notify a person's next of kin of an arrest
as soon as possible. However, lawyers are not always informed promptly
of the date of arrest, and thus are not always able to monitor compliance
with the preventive detention limits. While the law provides for a limited
system of bail, it rarely was granted. However, defendants in some instances
are released on their own recognizance. The law does not provide for
habeas corpus or its equivalent. Under a separate military code, military
authorities may detain members of the military without warrants or public
Although accused persons generally are brought to trial within an initial
period of 2 months, prosecutors may request up to five additional 2-month
extensions of pretrial detention. Thus, an accused person may be kept
in detention for up to 1 year prior to trial.
On May 3, in the Western Saharan city of Laayoune, the local headquarters
for the Democratic Confederation of Labor (CDT) issued a statement claiming
that security forces forcibly dispersed a sit-in by unemployed graduates
outside the Employment Department Headquarters. Some of the students
sought refuge in the Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT) headquarters.
Five demonstrators reportedly were injured and seven CDT members arrested.
The statement called for the release of those arrested. They received
a royal pardon in November.
Forced exile is provided by law; however, there were no known instances
of its use during the year.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the
courts remain to some extent subject to extrajudicial pressures, including
government influence. Some members of the judiciary are corrupt. The
Government continued to implement reforms intended to increase judicial
independence and impartiality. In 1999 the Ministry of Justice created
a system of commercial courts for business litigation and began to implement
a 5-year reform plan that emphasized transparency, accountability, and
professionalism. The OMDH and other groups have criticized the Government
regarding the slow pace of judicial reform. During the past 3 years,
the administrative courts frequently have ruled against local governments
that exceeded their authority. However, the Government was slow in providing
restitution and damages.
There are four levels in the common law court system: Communal and
district courts, courts of first instance, the Appeals Court, and the
Supreme Court. While in theory there is a single court system under
the Ministry of Justice, other courts also operate, including: The Special
Court of Justice, which handles cases of civil servants who are implicated
in corruption; administrative courts, which deal with the decisions
of the bureaucracy; commercial courts, which deal with business disputes;
and the military tribunal, which tries cases involving military personnel
and, on certain occasions, matters pertaining to state security (although
state security cases also may fall within the jurisdiction of the regular
Although there is a single court system for most nonmilitary matters,
family issues such as marriage, divorce, child support and custody,
and inheritance are adjudicated by judges trained in Shari'a (Islamic
law) as applied in the country. Judges considering criminal cases or
cases in nonfamily areas of civil law generally are trained in the French
legal tradition. All judges trained in recent years are graduates of
the National Institute for Judicial Studies, where they undergo 3 years
of study heavily focused on human rights and the rule of law. It is
not necessary to be a lawyer to become a judge, and the majority of
judges are not lawyers.
In general detainees are arraigned before a court of first instance.
If the infraction is minor and not contested, the judge may order the
defendant released or impose a light sentence. If an investigation is
required, the judge may release defendants on their own recognizance.
If the judge determines that a confession was obtained under duress,
the law requires him to exclude it from evidence. However, according
to reliable sources, cases often are adjudicated on the basis of confessions,
some of which are obtained under duress.
While appeal courts may in some cases be used as a second reference
for courts of first instance, they primarily handle cases involving
crimes punishable by 5 years or more in prison. In practice defendants
before appeals courts who are implicated in such crimes consequently
have no method of appeal if a judgment goes against them. The Supreme
Court does not review and rule on cases sent to it by courts of appeal;
in its role as a court of cassation, the Supreme Court may overturn
an appellate court's ruling on procedural grounds only. The absence
of appeals for defendants in such crimes therefore becomes more problematic
given the fact that an investigation into the case by an examining magistrate
is mandatory only in those crimes punishable by sentences of life imprisonment
Justice Minister Azziman continued his efforts to end petty corruption
in the judiciary. The caseload for the Special Court of Justice has
increased, and the Justice Ministry publicizes the disciplinary action
taken against judicial personnel. Nonetheless, the court system remained
subject to extrajudicial pressures. Observers alleged that petty bribery
remained a routine cost of court business. In some courts, especially
in minor criminal cases, observers alleged that defendants or their
families must bribe court officers and judges to secure a favorable
The Special Court of Justice, despite its resource constraints, increasingly
has prosecuted public servants for corruption. On April 24, the Special
Court of Justice announced the verdict in its first major public financial
case. It acquitted 2 defendants and sentenced 14 others to prison terms
from 6 months to 15 years, plus restitution. The case involved embezzlement
of $2.16 million (24 million dirhams) from the Professional Millers
Association. Since 1999 the Special Court of Justice has reviewed 59
cases involving prison administration personnel. On November 9, the
Minister of Justice reported that since mid-1998, 707 disciplinary cases
involving the misconduct of justice system personnel had been opened.
Of these 129 were judges, 49 of whom had been removed permanently from
Following the installation of a new Government in 1998, the judiciary's
relationship with the Ministry of Interior began to be less dependent.
Nevertheless, judges continue to work closely with the Interior Ministry's
network of local district officials, or "caids" (although
as judicial police, caids technically fall under the jurisdiction of
the Justice Ministry), who legally are charged with the responsibility
of questioning criminal defendants. Caids prepare the written summary
of an arrest and subsequent interrogation. The summary is admissible
in court as an element of the evidentiary process and can carry great
weight with the judge. In the last several years, the Ministry of Justice
began to attempt to assert its authority and control over judges; however,
such control was not realized by year's end.
The law does not distinguish political and security cases from common
criminal cases. In serious state security cases (offenses deemed against
the Monarchy, Islam, or the territorial integrity of the country), communications
between the Ministry of Interior and the court are more direct. At the
Government's discretion, such cases may be brought before a specially
constituted military tribunal, which is subservient to other branches
of the Government, especially the military and the Ministry of Interior.
Aside from external pressures, resource constraints also affect the
court system. Consequently, criminal defendants charged with less serious
offenses often receive only a cursory hearing, with judges relying on
police reports to render decisions. Although the Ministry of Justice
provides an attorney at public expense for serious crimes (when the
offense carries a maximum sentence of more than 5 years), appointed
attorneys who are not paid adequately often provide inadequate representation.
During the year, the courts continued to handle an increasing number
of cases that involved sensitive human rights issues, most of which
were covered openly and extensively by national and international media.
Defense attorneys continued to claim that judicial processes in these
cases were marked by significant irregularities, and that such irregularities
infringes on the right to a fair trial for the accused.
A number of persons were tried during the year for their participation
in protests in December 2000. They had been arrested in December 2000
in connection with peaceful demonstrations held to celebrate the International
Day of Human Rights, during which security forces violently attacked
human rights activists, members of the JCO, and unemployed university
graduates (see Sections 2.b and 4). Between February 1 and March 1,
64 JCO members were convicted (and several acquitted) in trials in Rabat,
Fez and Marrakech. Prison sentences ranged from 3 months (suspended)
to 1 year and fines of up to approximately $450 (5,000 dirhams). In
addition 36 AMDH members were convicted for organizing an unauthorized
demonstration, including the president, Abderrahmane Benomar, and other
leading AMDH members. On May 16, they received sentences of 3 months
plus fines of approximately $270 (3,000 dirhams). The cases were criticized
in the domestic and international press. Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch declared that "intimidating human rights defenders
with jail sentences for exercising their right of freedom of expression
is unacceptable." On November 21, the Rabat Court of Appeals overturned
the conviction of the AMDH members. The Court held that the AMDH had
requested permission for the event, but that the Ministry of the Interior
had not denied it in writing, as it was required to do.
In July Ahmed Boukhari, a former intelligence agent, made public allegations
regarding the Government's role in the 1965 Paris disappearance of socialist
activist Mehdi Ben Barka. Within a month, the authorities incarcerated
Boukhari on charges of issuing bad checks. On August 28, the Casablanca-Anfa
Court of First Instance sentenced Boukhari to one year in prison and
a fine of approximately $14,000 (155,000 dirhams) for writing bad checks
in the early 1990's. The defense maintained that Boukhari previously
had been convicted and punished for issuing some of the checks in 1998.
On October 16, the Casablanca Court of Appeals ruled, in Boukhari's
favor, determining that Boukhari already had already been sentenced
and punished for issuing the 1998 checks. For issuing the remaining
checks, the Court of Appeals reduced Boukhari's sentence to 3 months'
imprisonment and a fine of approximately $1,350 (15,000 dirhams). The
Court of Appeals blamed the prosecution for not providing the file of
the earlier conviction during the trial, and based its decision on that
However, on December 5, Boukhari appeared in court in a defamation
suit brought against him by three former intelligence officers whom
Boukhari alleged were involved the kidnaping and murder of Ben Barka.
All three requested damages of approximately $90,000 (1 million dirhams).
On December 12, Boukhari was sentenced to 3 months in prison and ordered
to pay approximately $28,800 (320,000 dirhams), including $9,000 (100,000
dirhams) to each of the former agents.
The Ben Barka case continues to embarrass the Government. The King
himself, in an August interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro,
declared he wanted the truth to come out concerning the disappearance
of Ben Barka. Most Moroccans see this case as a patent, heavy-handed
attempt by the Government to prevent Boukhari from talking about the
Ben Barka disappearance. Nevertheless, the press reported on this case
in great detail.
The Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals issued several decisions
during the year concerning continuing cases originally tried in previous
years. In November 2000, 14 Islamist students who had been arrested
during violent clashes between students and police at Mohammedia University
earlier in November were convicted of disturbance of public order and
sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment and fines ranging from $45 to $135
(500 to 1,500 dirhams). The alleged victims of the students' vandalism
did not appear at the trial to testify or to be cross-examined. On January
2, amidst extremely tight security, due to concerns over possible demonstrations
by Islamist supporters, the case was opened by the Casablanca Court
of Appeals, and then rescheduled for January 23. After a hearing on
January 23, the Court of Appeals acquitted one person, reduced two sentences
to 8 months, reduced one sentence to 7 months, and reduced the remaining
sentences to 4 months (see Sections 1.c. and 2.b.).
Mustapha Adib, an Air Force captain, originally was tried in December
1999 before a military court for allegedly violating the Military Code
and libeling the military. The authorities detained Adib after he spoke
out against military corruption and harassment to a journalist from
the French newspaper Le Monde. In February 2000, a military court convicted
Adib. The court denied the defense's requests that the court make the
trial public, allow the defense to summon more than a dozen defense
witnesses and present documentary evidence, and recuse one of the military
judges, who was a former superior of Adib's. The judge whom the defense
asked be recused allegedly was responsible for blocking Adib's promotions
after Adib made the allegations of corruption in a 1998 letter to then-Crown
Prince Sidi Mohammed (now King Mohammed VI). The military tribunal sentenced
Adib to the maximum prison term of 5 years and expelled him from the
air force. Human rights activists criticized the conduct of the trial;
the OMDH issued a report in February 2000 contending that closed trials
unjustly influenced the results and accused the court of partiality
in refusing to recuse Adib's former superior. After deciding on a "silent
defense" to protest the military court's conduct of the case, the
attorney representing Adib characterized the trial as a "travesty
of justice." In June 2000, the Supreme Court overruled the military
court and announced that a new military tribunal composed of different
judges would retry the case.
A newly constituted military court in Rabat retried Adib's case in
October 2000, and after 3 days of hearings, during which the court again
refused to hear witnesses requested by the defense, the military court
found Adib guilty of the charges initially brought against him. The
court sentenced Adib to 21/2 years in prison and expelled him from the
military. On February 21, the Supreme Court denied Adib's final appeal.
The case remains very visible. The truth regarding Adib's accusations
of corruption was not a defense and, in fact, never was contested. On
September 24, Adib published a letter from Sale Prison, distributed
through human rights groups. The letter announced Adib's sixth hunger
strike and protested his arbitrary detention, his lack of a fair trial,
the flagrant pressure placed on the judges, and the silence and negligence
of the authorities concerning his case. An article in the weekly newspaper
Le Journal criticized the silence of the Prime Minister, who previously
had discussed "whistleblower" laws to protect such persons
as Adib and had publicly praised Adib's efforts to fight corruption.
Adib remains an Amnesty International "Prisoner of Conscience,"
and in 2000 was awarded a Transparency International Integrity Award.
In April 2000, a Moroccan court in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune
sentenced five Sahwari youths to prison terms of between 5 and 10 years
for the "formation of a criminal organization" after their
alleged participation in a March 2000 stone-throwing event, which reliable
sources say was spontaneous, unorganized, and lasted only 5 minutes.
Human rights activists criticized the handling of the trial, particularly
the court's refusal to hear witnesses who allegedly would have testified
that two of the defendants were elsewhere at the time of the incident.
The prosecution allegedly presented no evidence that the five defendants
were the ones who had thrown rocks during this incident. One defense
attorney alleged that the judicial police investigating the affair committed
several illegal acts by unlawfully entering homes of the defendants
and detaining them, torturing the accused during their detention, and
forcing them to sign police reports under duress, which they were not
allowed to read, and which they claimed contained falsehoods. The decision
has been appealed to the Supreme Court; however, before the trial could
be held, the five youths were granted a royal pardon in November.
Four Sahrawis who were sentenced in 2000 to 4 years in prison for threatening
the internal security of the state also were granted a royal pardon
In November the King pardoned all those arrested during the September
1999 protests in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune. A total of 56
prisoners were released (see Section 2.b.).
According to some groups, the Government continued to hold a number
of political prisoners. The AMDH states that 20 political prisoners
remained in detention at years' end on charges of trying to smuggle
arms into Algeria. Unlike in the past, according to the OMDH, the Government
held no political prisoners at year's end; OMDH had claimed that seven
political prisoners remained in detention in 2000.
In the past, the Ministry of Interior claimed that there were 55 Islamists
serving sentences for offenses that ranged from arms smuggling in the
1980's to participating in a bomb attack on a hotel in Marrakech in
1994. There also have been past claims that some of these Islamists
were imprisoned solely for calling for an Islamic state during the 1980's.
The AMDH claims that two members of the "Group of 26," an
Islamist group involved in smuggling arms into the country from Algeria
in the mid-1980's, remained in prison. The other 24 members completed
their sentences or otherwise were released at various times between
1994 and the end of the year. Various international human rights groups'
estimates of the number of persons in prison for advocating independence
for the Western Sahara vary from none to 700. Amnesty International
identifies 60 persons whom it considers to be political prisoners. According
to several human rights organizations, achieving consensus on a definitive
number of political prisoners is extremely difficult, mainly because
conditions in the Western Sahara complicate attempts to confirm whether
Sahrawis were imprisoned solely for their political affiliation or open
advocacy of Western Saharan independence, or whether they were imprisoned
for other actions in violation of the law. The AMDH claims that it knows
of no persons imprisoned for having overtly advocated Western Saharan
independence. The Government does not consider any of its prisoners
to be political prisoners.
Although the Government claims that it no longer holds political prisoners,
it permits international humanitarian organizations to visit prisoners
whom such organizations consider to be imprisoned for political reasons;
however, no organizations visited such prisoners during the year.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or Correspondence
The Constitution states that the home is inviolable and that no search
or investigation may take place without a search warrant, and the law
stipulates that a search warrant may be issued by a prosecutor on good
cause; however, authorities sometimes ignored these provisions.
Government security services monitored certain persons and organizations,
both foreign and Moroccan and government informers monitored activities
on university campuses.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of expression; however, the Government
restricted discussion regarding the three topics that the Government
considers sensitive: The Monarchy, Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara,
and the sanctity of Islam. Nonetheless, an interview was published on
October 26 that criticized the King concerning an issue of religion.
Newspapers and weeklies from across the political spectrum, from Socialist
to nationalist to Islamist, published freely, and the Government continued
to permit extensive coverage of formerly taboo topics during the year.
The Government owns the official press agency, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP),
and the Arabic daily newspaper, Al-Anbaa. The Government also supports
two semiofficial dailies, the French-language Le Matin and the Arabic-language
Assahra Al Maghribia. In addition the Government provides subsidies
to the rest of the press through price supports for newsprint and office
space. A 1958 decree grants the Government the authority to register
and license domestic newspapers and journals. Authorities may use the
licensing process to prevent the publication of materials that they
believe crosses the threshold of tolerable dissent. Offending publications
may be declared a danger to state security and seized, the publisher's
license suspended, and equipment destroyed. The Ministry of Interior
may control foreign publications by collecting "banned" publications
after they have been distributed. In December the authorities confiscated
an issue of the Spanish publication El Pais. Human rights activist Christine
Serfaty's book, Letter from Morocco, which has been published in Europe,
has not been made available in the country.
The Press Code empowers the Minister of Interior to confiscate publications
that are judged offensive by the Government. Under the code, the Prime
Minister may order the indefinite suspension of a publication. The Press
Code also empowers the Government to censor newspapers directly by ordering
them not to report on specific items or events. In most past instances,
government control of the media generally has been exercised through
directives and "guidance" from the Ministry of Interior. A
proposed new press law, still before Parliament, would give such authority
to the courts rather than the executive branch.
There were approximately 2,000 domestic and foreign newspapers, magazines,
and journals in circulation during the year. The Government generally
tolerates satirical and often stinging editorials in the opposition
parties' dailies. The media continue to engage regularly in self-censorship
to avoid the Government's attention and possible sanctions.
In January journalist Tayeb Hannouda allegedly was arrested while taking
pictures of the governor's office in Casablanca. During the arrest,
Hannouda reportedly suffered a broken shoulder; in addition his camera
On January 10, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights
League (FIDH) held its 34th congress in Casablanca. The presidents of
FIDH and AMDH, as well as other activists, openly delivered extremely
critical speeches, highlighting the then-recent closure of the three
publications above, and the arrests following the December 2000 AMDH
The Government continued to allow publication of books about the past
torture and mistreatment in its prisons. In early January, Ahmed Marzouki
published "Tazmamart: Cellule 10," about his 18 years as a
prisoner at the notorious Tazmamart prison. In 2000 the Government had
permitted publication of "The Unachieved Past" and "They
Even Starve Rats," also about life and torture in the country's
prisons. The Government-owned television station, 2M, which employs
several former political prisoners, carried an interview with Marzouki
(see Section 1.c).
According to press reports in late spring and summer 2000, the authorities
allegedly blocked the publication of two newspapers associated with
the JCO--Al Adl Wal Ihsane and Rissalat Al Fatuwa--by ordering printers
to suspend their distribution.
According to press reports, the Government continued to block the publication
of the JCO's newspapers throughout the year, and in mid-April, seized
thousands of copies of the JCO's weekly youth organization newspaper,
Rissalat Al Fatuwa. The authorities also blocked two of the JCO's Web
sites at the same time, with domestic access to them cut off. The head
of the Paris-based NGO, Journalists Without Borders sent a protest letter,
also in April, to Minister of Interior Midaoui, criticizing the Government's
On January 25, the Islamic movement JCO held a press conference claiming
that the authorities exerted pressure on print shops to prohibit the
printing of its newspaper Rissalat Al Fatuwa. The organization claimed
its last issue was printed offset and had been distributed throughout
Morocco by its members. The organization periodically claimed that the
Government had pressured printing firms not to print or distribute the
On February 18, Sheikh Abdessalam Yassine (who previously had been
detained under house arrest for refusing to acknowledge the religious
authority of then King Hassan II) presented his new book, "Justice,
the Islamists, and Power." According to the March 2 issue of the
magazine Demain, the printer's shop was broken into in October 2000,
and 800 copies of the book were stolen, among other items. Many observers
suspect government involvement.
The law provides for jail sentences, fines, and damages for newspaper
officials found guilty of libeling public officials. On March 1, the
Casablanca Court of First Instance ruled in favor of Foreign Minister
Benaissa in his May 2000 libel suit against Le Journal Hebdo, which
claimed in April 2000 that Benaissa had embezzled $4 million (44 million
dirhams) while he was the Ambassador to the United States. The editor,
Boubker Jamai, received a sentence of 3 months in prison. The manager,
Ali Amar, received a sentence of 2 months. Each was fined approximately
$900 (10,000 dirhams). The publication was ordered to pay approximately
$180,000 (2 million dirhams) in damages. RSF claimed that the verdict
was "contrary to the rights of the citizens to be freely informed."
The publication changed its name (dropping Hebdo) and continued to publish
without further incident. The publication claimed to have filed an appeal
on March 2, and had not paid the 2 million dirhams in damages to Benaissa
by year's end.
On March 5, Jamai himself announced that he intended to file a similar
suit for defamation against Ahmed Midaoui, then-Minister of the Interior,
who declared during a television broadcast that Jamai was not "100
percent Moroccan," as his newspaper supported the "Polisario
and Morocco's enemies." The following month, another publication,
Demain, ran, without incident, an article highly critical of alleged
nepotism and abuse in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
In March Khalid Adroune from the television station 2M claimed that
the Government attempted to prohibit him from attending a seminar. Adroune
eventually attended the seminar; however, it was not broadcast by 2M.
According to the weekly Al Hayat Al Yaoumia, on April 6 police broke
into a distribution company in Casablanca and seized 10,000 copies of
Rissalat Al Fatuwa. The Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF)
criticized the Government's actions. On April 22, the Moroccan National
Press Syndicate (SNPM) also criticized the incident.
On April 10, the Moroccan International Weekly published an interview
with Abdelhamid Amine, the newly elected president of the AMDH. Amine
claimed that the Government had taken no action regarding the AMDH list
of 14 persons publicly accused of torture in October 2000, but had instead
prosecuted the authors of the list. Amine was one of 36 AMDH activists
arrested in December 2000 and sentenced in May to 4 months and a fine
(see Sections 1.e. and 4). On April 15, Amine was prohibited from participating
in a broadcast in which he was scheduled to appear.
The Government banned the May 17 issue of the French weekly Le Courier
International, which included an article regarding the Berber issue
in Morocco. RSF criticized the banning.
On May 27, the Government seized a double issue of Rissalat Al Fatuwa
that dealt with human rights abuses suffered by the JCO during the past
On June 22, a local government official in Khouribga, Hassan Hamada,
allegedly kidnaped and attempted to kill journalist Mustapha Bekkari
from the newspaper Rissalat Al Umma. Bekkari was covering a sit-in of
unemployed university graduates. The Ministry of Interior investigated,
but no charges were filed.
On October 1, the Moroccan National Press Union stated that it would
closely examine the case of Channel 1 TV employee Mustapha Abbasi, whom
the Government suspended "just after he presented a program on
all the detentions that involved activists of the Moroccan Union for
According to MAP, on October 25 the Rabat prosecutor initiated a preliminary
investigation against Ali Lemrabet, publisher of Demain magazine for
publishing an article claiming that the Royal Palace in Skhirat would
be sold. The prosecutor's office claimed the article contained lies,
and the investigation aimed "to safeguard the code of ethics of
journalism." On November 7, a communique by the AMDH expressed
its concerns about the harassment of Demain director Ali Lemrabet. The
case convened on November 7 in the Rabat Court of First Instance, and
Lemrabet received a sentence of 4 months and a fine of approximately
$2,700 (30,000 dirhams), which was widely criticized by press and human
On November 1, the King prohibited the Spanish newspaper El Mundo from
covering his trip to the Western Sahara, allegedly because of critical
articles that it had published. Other Spanish media freely covered and
reported on the trip.
On January 12 and January 15, the Government reversed its December
2000 decision and lifted the ban against three independent weekly publications
(Le Journal, Demain, and Assahifa) known for their politically sensitive
On October 26, the press freely published an interview with Dr. Driss
Kettani, an extremist Islamic scholar, in which he accused the Minister
of Islamic Affairs of abuse of power. He also called a September 16
ecumenical ceremony in the Rabat cathedral "a big sin" for
Muslims and stated that "the notion of dialogue among the three
monotheistic religions is a Zionist idea." Kettan's uncensored
criticism attacked the King both as the political and religious leader
of the country.
In general press articles containing unflattering material that routinely
had been prevented from circulation in past years, with the exception
of those related to the topics the Government still considers sensitive,
were permitted free circulation during the year. These included reports
on corruption in the Government and military, financial scandals at
public institutions, sensitive human rights-related court cases, torture,
violence against women, the exploitation of child maids, prostitution,
poverty, sexual abuse of children, and harsh conditions inside prisons.
Some critical books were published and are openly sold, such as "1961-1999:
A Broken Hope," by Ignace Dalle, which is highly critical of the
reign of King Hassan II.
In 2000 the King announced that the Government was preparing legislation
for reforming the Public Liberties Law (see Section 2.b.), and Prime
Minister Youssoufi's Cabinet reviewed a draft in December 2000. The
most significant proposed change was to give the judiciary the authority
to shut down or suspend a publication, removing that authority from
the executive branch. The SNPM claimed that the draft still permits
the Government to seize, confiscate, and ban publications, and to punish
those convicted of libel and defamation with jail sentences. Domestic
critics and human rights activists have long criticized such provisions
that widely are perceived to repress and stifle freedom of expression.
The proposed legislation was before Parliament but had not been acted
on by year's end.
On April 10, the SNPM launched a national campaign to protect journalists
from harassment and repression. It also called for the revision of the
Press Code. On May 3, the SNPM and the International Federation of Journalists
(FIJE) used International Press Day to launch a campaign to protect
journalists. On November 7 in Casablanca, the SNPM, four human rights
organizations, the Union of Moroccan Writers, the Bar Association, the
Publishers Association, and Transparency International created an independent
body to promote journalistic ethics and freedom of expression.
The Government controls Radio-Television Marocaine (RTM) broadcasts.
Another major broadcaster is the French-backed Medi-1, which operates
from Tangier and broadcasts throughout Morocco and other parts of North
Africa. While nominally private and independent, Medi-1 practices self-censorship,
as do other media outlets. A government-appointed committee monitors
broadcasts. The Government owns the only television stations whose broadcasts
may be received in most parts of the nation without decoders or satellite
Dish antennas permit free access to a wide variety of television foreign
broadcasts and are available at moderate cost on the market. The antennas
are in wide use throughout the country. Residents of the north are able
to receive Spanish broadcasts with standard antennas. The Government
did not impede the reception of foreign broadcasts during the year.
The Government generally does not restrict Internet access; however,
the Government reportedly blocked JCO's Web sites.
From the mid-1980's, the popular humorist Ahmed Snoussi (also known
as Bziz) was prohibited from performing in the country because of his
satirizing those in power. The ban was lifted when the King invited
him to appear in a public service advertisement for the Mohammed V Foundation.
The universities enjoy academic freedom in most areas, but are barred
from open debate on the Monarchy, the Western Sahara, and Islam. Government
informers monitor Islamist campus activities and rectors must be approved
by the Ministry of Interior (see Section 1.f.).
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly; however, the law
also permits the Government to suppress even peaceful demonstrations
and mass gatherings, and at times police forcibly prevented and disrupted
gatherings during the year. Most conferences and demonstrations require
the prior authorization of the Ministry of Interior, ostensibly for
security reasons. Local observers generally agree that the authorities
require a declaration of a public meeting and authorization by the authorities
in order for public-venue meetings to proceed, and the authorities only
allow those meetings to proceed that they do not consider threatening.
Throughout the year, many meetings and marches took place peacefully
without government interference, including sit-ins at the Ministry of
Labor by unemployed university graduates; however, other demonstrations
including those involving teachers, taxi drivers and unemployed graduates
were prevented or disrupted by the Government.
The Government banned a meeting of Berbers in Fez in April, as well
as the Berber national conference originally scheduled for June 22-24
(see Section 5).
On April 17, the police reportedly used excessive force to disperse
taxi drivers in Rabat and Sale who were conducting a peaceful protest
against what they saw as unjustified fines imposed by the police. The
taxi union criticized the Government's action, in which 17 persons reportedly
were injured (see Sections 1.c. and 6.a.).
On May 3, in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune, the CDT issued a
statement claiming that security forces violently disrupted a sit-in
by unemployed graduates outside the Employment Department headquarters
(see Section 1.d.).
A group of handicapped, unemployed graduates near Rabat alleged that
the authorities prevented them from participating in a May 1 Labor Day
In October the Party for Justice and Democracy, an Islamist-oriented
political party, requested permission for a demonstration in downtown
Rabat to protest military action in Afghanistan by the international
counter-terrorism coalition. Permission was not granted.
According to press reports, on October 11, police used force to break
up a sit-in by dock workers aboard a ship and arrested 60 union members.
On November 14, security forces using clubs broke up a sit-in in front
of the Ministry of Finance in Rabat. According to press reports, some
of the strikers were injured seriously (see Sections 1.c. and 6.a.).
On December 10 (Human Rights Day), 400 members of the AMDH staged a
peaceful rally without incident, unlike last year. The demonstrators
sent the Minister of Justice a list with 45 names of persons whom the
AMDH claims were involved in past human rights abuses. On December 31,
the AMDH, OMDH, and the FMVJ staged a peaceful New Years Eve sit-in
demonstration in Casablanca to support those who have disappeared and
One hundred protestors were sentenced early in the year in connection
with demonstrations in late 2000 for holding an unauthorized demonstration.
In December 2000, security forces used violent means to disperse demonstrations
throughout Morocco involving thousands of protestors from the AMDH,
JCO, and other organizations. Most of those arrested were released.
The AMDH and the JCO claimed early in the year that 1,164 JCO demonstrators
were detained and 950 injured during the incident. Between February
1 and March 1, 64 JCO members were sentenced to prison terms ranging
from 3 months (suspended) to 1 year, plus fines. A total of 36 AMDH
members, including their president, also received jail sentences (see
Sections 1.d., 1.e., and 4). On November 21, the Rabat Court of Appeals
overturned the conviction of the AMDH members. The Court found that
the AMDH had requested permission for the event, but that the Ministry
of the Interior had not denied it in writing, as required.
During the year, there were no new developments related to the investigation
of police abuses committed in the Western Sahara city of Laayoune in
September and October 1999. At that time, police used brutal force to
break up demonstrations organized by students, unemployed graduates,
miners, and former Sahrawi political prisoners, who were protesting
a variety of social grievances. However, in November the King pardoned
all those arrested during the September 1999 protests, and also pardoned
Mohamed Daddach, whom the Polisario had portrayed as a political prisoner.
Daddach had left the Polisario and voluntarily joined the military.
He was prosecuted for attempted desertion, reportedly for attempting
to return to the Polisario side. A total of 56 prisoners were released.
There was progress during the year on local elections to choose members
of the proposed new Royal Advisory Council for the Western Sahara that
the King announced in October 1999.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the
Government limits this right in practice. Under a 1958 decree, which
was amended substantially in 1973 to introduce restrictions on civil
society organizations, persons who wish to create an organization must
obtain the approval of the Ministry of Interior before holding meetings.
In practice the Ministry uses this requirement to prevent persons suspected
of advocating causes opposed by the Government from forming legal organizations.
Historically, extreme Islamist and leftist groups have encountered the
greatest difficulty in obtaining official approval. Although there are
over 20 active Islamist groups, the Government has prohibited membership
in two, the JCO and Jama'a Islamia, due to their perceived anti-Monarchy
rhetoric. The Ministry of Interior, which has used this power to control
participation in the political process, also must approve political
parties. However, individual Islamists are not barred from participating
in recognized political parties.
Several proposed parties were not allowed to form during the year.
In April the Government banned the founding congress of the Liberal
Party of former Human Rights Minister Mohammed Ziane. In June the Government
prohibited the establishment of the Civic Forces party by Abderrahim
Lahjouji, former head of an employers association. However, it held
its constitutive assembly on November 10. More than 2,500 founding members
attended, electing a national council, as well as electing Lahjouji
as temporary chairman. The party planned to hold its first national
congress in March 2002.
Throughout the year, journalists, NGO's, and human rights activists
continued to call on the Government to enact a new public liberties
law, which Prime Minister Youssoufi announced he would do when he assumed
power in 1998 (see Section 2.a.). In 1999 42 NGO's addressed a memorandum
to the Prime Minister proposing amendments to the law that governs the
press, associations, and public gatherings. Their proposals were aimed
at easing current restrictions and giving associations more freedom
to organize and function. The present Public Liberties Law dates from
1958, and many legal observers agree that the sole amendment to the
law, which was ratified in 1973, constituted a setback to civil liberties.
The amendment apparently introduced restrictions that established firmer
government control over the legal establishment of associations and
the associations' scope of action once they are recognized legally and
allowed to operate. A number of NGO's and activists expressed frustration
at the Government's slow progress with respect to the reforms that they
have called for on numerous occasions.
In October the Moroccan Bar Association also called for the promulgation
of a new public liberties law.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and Jewish and Christian
communities openly practice their faiths; however, the Government places
certain restrictions on Christian religious materials and proselytizing,
and several small religious minorities are tolerated with varying degrees
of official restrictions. A small foreign Hindu community has received
the right to perform cremations and to hold services. Baha'is are forbidden
to meet or participate in communal activities. The Government monitors
the activities of mosques and places other restrictions on Muslims and
Islamic organizations whose activities are deemed to have exceeded the
bounds of religious practice and become political in nature. The Constitution
provides that Islam is the official religion, and designates the King
as "Commander of the Faithful" with the responsibility of
ensuring "respect for Islam."
The Government does not license or approve religions or religious organizations.
The Government provides tax benefits, land and building grants, subsidies,
and customs exemptions for imports necessary for the observance of the
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs monitors Friday mosque sermons and
the Koranic schools to ensure the teaching of approved doctrine. At
times the authorities suppress the activities of Islamists, but generally
tolerate activities limited to the propagation of Islam, education,
and charity. Security forces sometimes close mosques to the public shortly
after Friday services to prevent the use of the premises for unauthorized
political activity. The Government strictly controls authorization to
construct new mosques. Most mosques are constructed using private funds.
The Government bars the Islamic JCO as a political party and subjects
prominent members to constant surveillance and at times prevented them
from obtaining passports. The Government also arrested and prosecuted
JCO members and blocked publication of JCO newspapers (see Sections
1.f., 2.a., 2.b., and 3).
The teaching of Islam in public schools benefits from discretionary
funding in the Government's annual education budget, as do other curriculum
subjects. The annual budget also provides funds for religious instruction
to the small parallel system of Jewish public schools.
Since the time of the French protectorate (1912-56), a small foreign
Christian community has operated churches, orphanages, hospitals, and
schools without any restriction or licensing requirement being imposed.
Missionaries who conduct themselves in accordance with societal expectations
largely are left unhindered. However, those who proselytize publicly
Islamic law and tradition call for strict punishment for any Muslim
who converts to another faith. Citizens who convert to Christianity
and other religions sometimes face social ostracism, and in the past
a small number have faced short periods of questioning by the authorities.
Voluntary conversion is not a crime under the Criminal or Civil Codes;
however, the authorities have jailed some converts on the basis of references
to Koranic law. Any attempt to induce a Muslim to convert is illegal.
Foreign missionaries either limit their proselytizing to non-Muslims
or conduct their work quietly.
In 2000 the Gendarmerie Royale summoned several members of the foreign
Christian community for questioning concerning the practice of their
faith. The Gendarmerie began an investigation into their activities
at that time. The investigation reportedly still was ongoing at year's
end. Despite not possessing resident visas, the subjects of the investigation
continued to face no problems residing in, exiting, and returning to
The Government permits the display and sale of Bibles in French, English,
and Spanish, but confiscates Arabic-language Bibles and refuses licenses
for their importation and sale, despite the absence of any law banning
such books. Nevertheless, Arabic Bibles reportedly have been sold in
local bookstores. There were no known cases in which foreigners were
denied entry into the country because they were carrying Christian materials,
as occurred in the past.
The small Baha'i community has been forbidden to meet or participate
in communal activities since 1983; however, there were no reports during
the year that the Government summoned members of the Baha'i Faith for
questioning or denied them passports, as had occurred in previous years.
There are two sets of laws and courts--one for Jews and one for Muslims--pertaining
to marriage, inheritance, and family matters. The family law courts
are administered, depending on the law that applies, by rabbinical and
Islamic authorities who are court officials. Parliament must authorize
any changes to those laws. Non-Koranic sections of Islamic law on personal
status are applied to non-Muslims and non-Jews.
The Government encourages tolerance and respect among religions. The
King sponsored an inter-faith memorial ceremony on September 16 for
the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders presided. Prime Minister
Youssoufi and numerous other ministers attended the ceremony, which
was held in Rabat's Catholic cathedral.
The Government annually organizes in May the "Fez Festival of
Sacred Music," which includes musicians from many countries representing
many religions. The Government has organized in the past numerous symposiums
among local and international clergy, priests, rabbis, imams and other
spiritual leaders to examine ways to reduce religious intolerance and
to promote interfaith dialogue. Each year during the Islamic holy month
of Ramadan, the King hosts colloquiums of Islamic religious scholars
that include examination of ways to promote tolerance and mutual respect
within Islam and between Islam and other religions.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration,
The Constitution provides for freedom of movement; however, the Government
restricts this right in certain areas. The gendarmerie maintains checkpoints
throughout the country, at which drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations
are examined for validity. Although checkpoints have been maintained
in the same places for years, the degree of inspections of motorists
has relaxed, although the emphasis on inspecting trucks and buses continues
due mainly to the country's status as a major transit point for illegal
immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and for drugs destined for Europe.
While there were continuing allegations that gendarmes demand small
bribes to clear vehicles, press reports indicate that gendarmes found
guilty of such behavior are punished. In 1998 the Gendarmerie Royale
began a campaign to combat such abuses within its ranks.
In the Moroccan-administered Western Sahara, authorities restrict movement
in areas regarded as militarily sensitive.
The Ministry of Interior restricts freedom to travel outside the country
in certain circumstances. In addition all civil servants and military
personnel must obtain written permission from their ministries to leave
the country. The OMDH and AMDH have compiled lists of individuals who
reportedly have been denied passports or who have passports but are
denied permission to travel. The OMDH contended that the Government,
in resorting to arbitrary administrative delays, continues to harass
former political prisoners who seek to resume normal lives. The OMDH
also has alleged that the Government forbids some citizens to leave
the country during the year.
On January 17, after a public appeal to the King, Ahmed Marzouki was
granted a passport and allowed to travel to Paris to publicize his book,
"Tazmamart: Cellule 10," describing his 18 years as a prisoner
in the notorious prison (see Sections 1.c and 2.a).
On March 24, two Sahwari human rights activists from the FMVJ's Western
Sahara section claimed that they were not allowed to leave Casablanca
to attend a meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The activists
claimed that the Government wanted to prevent them from testifying on
arbitrary detention in Morocco before the Commission. However, they
claimed that they faxed their testimony to the International Federation
of Human Rights (FIDH), which presented it before the Commission.
According to press reports in 2000, three former political prisoners
(two identified as Abdellah El-Harrif and Mostapha Brahma) requested
passports in 2000. The three had not been given passports, nor had they
been advised why their passport requests were refused, by year's end.
Moroccans may not renounce their citizenship, but the King retains the
power--rarely used--to revoke it. Many Moroccans hold more than one
citizenship and travel on passports from two or more countries. While
in Morocco, they are regarded as Moroccan citizens. Dual nationals have
sometimes complained in the past of harassment by immigration inspectors.
The Government welcomed voluntary repatriation of Jews who have emigrated.
Moroccan Jewish emigres, including those with Israeli citizenship, freely
visit the country. The Government also encouraged the return of Sahrawis
who have departed Morocco due to the conflict in the Western Sahara,
provided that they recognize the Government's claim to the region. The
Government did not permit Western Saharan nationalists who have been
released from prison to live in the disputed territory.
The Government cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.
While Morocco has from time to time provided political asylum to individuals,
the issue of first asylum never has arisen. The law does not contain
provisions implementing the 1951 U.N. Convention relating to the Status
of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. There were no reports of forced expulsion
of persons with a valid claim to refugee status.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
Constitutional provisions establishing periodic free elections notwithstanding,
citizens do not have the full right to change their government. The
King, as head of state, appoints the Prime Minister, who is the titular
head of government. Constitutional changes in 1992, retained in the
Constitution of 1996, authorize the Prime Minister to nominate all government
ministers, but the King may nominate ministers himself and has the power
to replace any minister at will. The Parliament has the theoretical
ability to effect change in the system of government. However, the Constitution
may not be changed without the King's approval. The Ministry of Interior
appoints the provincial governors (walis) and local caids (district
administrative officials). However, the King may nominate walis himself.
Municipal and regional councils are elected.
The Government of Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi is the first
government formed from the political opposition since the late 1950's,
and his 1998 appointment by then-King Hassan II marked a significant
step toward increased democratization. With the support of the Monarchy,
Youssoufi, who was sentenced to death in absentia in the 1970's but
subsequently received a royal pardon in 1980, declared upon taking office
his intention to modernize the administrative and judicial structures
and to liberalize the economic and political system. Of the 41 cabinet-level
posts in the Government that Youssoufi appointed in 1998, only 3 posts
(Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Islamic Affairs) plus the Secretary General
of the Government and the Minister-Delegate for Defense Administration
remain filled by incumbents from the former government. The Interior
Minister has been replaced twice since then, and the current Minister,
Driss Jettou, has a background in business and finances, rather than
in security. In order to develop reforms, the King has granted cabinet
ministers a greater degree of responsibility for the management of their
individual portfolios. The Government now consists of 33 cabinet-level
posts, but still contains 6 "sovereign" ministerial posts
traditionally appointed by the King himself (Interior, Foreign Affairs,
Justice, Islamic Affairs, Defense Administration, and Secretary General
of the Government).
Following the June 1997 elections for municipal councils and regional
professional councils, there were widespread and credible accusations
of manipulation and vote-buying by various political parties and the
Government. The Election Commission examined numerous petitions during
the course of the electoral season in 1997 and recommended the reversal
of over 60 municipal election results, including in Tangier, Khoribga,
and Oujda, noted irregularities in four parliamentary races in Casablanca,
Chefchaouen, and Fez, and called for the results to be set aside, which
In August 1997 at the urging of then-King Hassan II, Parliament created
a 325-seat lower house, the Chamber of Representatives, to be filled
by direct elections, and a 270-seat upper house, the Chamber of Deputies,
whose members would be elected by various directly elected professional
and regional councils. There were widespread, credible allegations of
vote-buying and government manipulation in the November 1997 legislative
elections. The fraud and government pressure tactics led most independent
observers to conclude that the election results were heavily influenced,
if not predetermined, by the Government. All opposition parties criticized
the Government, and some called for a boycott of Parliament. Two winners
renounced their seats, alleging unsolicited government interference
on their behalf. The Election Commission concurred that irregularities
had occurred in two Casablanca cases and recommended that new elections
be held in those districts. After a long appeals process initiated by
the losers of the seats, new elections for the seats were held on August
31 of last year, as well as elections for four other seats throughout
the country. The new elections followed the formal invalidation of the
six 1997 election results throughout the year by the Constitutional
Press reports indicate that the August 2000 by-elections overall proceeded
more fairly than in 1997, despite allegations that two of the races
involved some cases of vote-buying. Also in August 2000, the Constitutional
Council invalidated an additional by-election held in the Casablanca-Mechouar
district in June that allegedly involved vote-buying. Despite the invalidations
by the Constitutional Council in 2000, the Council continued to attract
criticism for the alleged slow pace of its deliberations.
On September 15, 2000, indirect elections were held to replace, for
the first time since the body's inception, one third of the 270 seats
in the Chamber of Counselors. After the polls had closed, Interior Minister
Midaoui reported in a nationally televised press conference that various
political parties had engaged in vote-buying and fraud. Criticizing
the electoral corruption, Minister Midaoui claimed that his ministry
had done everything it could to prevent fraudulent practices, including
conducting investigations into 108 cases, at least 26 of which the Interior
Ministry was certain involved fraud. The Interior Minister also reported
that the Ministry had turned the cases over to the Justice Ministry
for further action, and that the Government "is going to do its
duty." However, by year's end, few of the cases involving electoral
fraud had been presented before the courts and prosecuted. According
to press reports, the Constitutional Council also had received several
hundred grievances relating to the election from throughout the country.
Fourteen parties have members in Parliament and 7 are represented in
the governing coalition. Several proposed parties were not allowed to
form during the year. The JCO never has been granted legal status as
a political party (see Section 2.b.).
The percentage of women in government and politics does not correspond
with their percentage of the population. There is 1 female minister
in the 33-member Cabinet. There are 3 women among the 600 members of
the 2 chambers of Parliament. Women occupy only 85 out of 22,600 seats
(or .34 percent) of local communal councils throughout the country.
However, there are a few women in several key positions, including the
first Royal Advisor, the Head of the National Office of Oil Research
and Exploration, and the head of the National Office of Tourism.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
There are three nationally organized and government-recognized nongovernmental
human rights groups: The Moroccan Organization for Human Rights, the
Moroccan League for the Defense of Human Rights (LMDDH), and the Moroccan
Association for Human Rights. A fourth group, the Committee for the
Defense of Human Rights (CDDH), was formed in 1992 by former AMDH members.
There are also numerous regional human rights organizations. The Government
maintains close relations with all of these groups and generally is
responsive to them. The AMDH does not officially work with the Government,
due to philosophical differences, but usually shares information with
Founded in 1979 and 1988, respectively, the AMDH and OMDH have spent
years addressing human rights abuses, and at times were subjected to
harassment and restrictions by the Government. However, some of their
former leaders now occupy high posts in the Youssoufi Government, particularly
in the human rights field. In 2000 the Government accorded AMDH and
OMDH "public utility" status, which confers organizations
financial benefits such as government subsidies as recognition of their
serving the public interest.
Two new prominent national human rights NGO's, the Moroccan Forum for
Truth and Justice and the National Moroccan Prison Observatory (ONPM),
were formed in 1999. Created by victims of forced disappearance and
surviving family members, the FMVJ's principal goal is to encourage
the Government to address openly the issue of past forced disappearances
and arbitrary detention. It also lobbies for reparations for former
political prisoners that extend beyond financial compensation. Created
by lawyers, doctors, journalists, former inmates, and entertainment
personalities, the ONPM's main purpose is improving the treatment and
living conditions of prisoners. ONPM also supports penal reform efforts.
In addition, there is the Moroccan Prison Observatory (OMP), an NGO
formed in 2000, which also supports the improvement of prison conditions.
These groups maintained fairly regular contact with government authorities
throughout the year.
During the weekend of December 9 to 11, 2000, security forces throughout
the country used violent means to disperse human rights activists, members
of the JCO, and unemployed graduates who separately gathered in Rabat
and other large cities to demonstrate for different reasons. Between
February 1 and March 4, a total of 36 AMDH members including the organization's
president, were among those sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3
months to 1 year, plus fines (see Sections 1.e. and 2.b.). On November
21, the Rabat Court of Appeals overturned the case against the 36 AMDH
In January the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights
Leagues held its world congress in Morocco. Many speakers openly and
strongly criticized the Government's human rights record, including
the December 2000 banning of three publications and arrest of AMDH activists
and JCO protesters in December 2000.
In April Amnesty International Secretary General Pierre Sane visited
Morocco. During the visit, Amnesty International upgraded its Moroccan
affiliates from "chapter" to "section" status. Sane
and his delegation met with the Prime Minister, as well as media and
NGO's. Sane praised "the progress recorded by Morocco in the field
of human rights and the methods by which the issue of detainees and
exiles was dealt with." However, Sane urged the Government to improve
its record regarding cases of political prisoners and the disappeared;
he claimed that the Government held 60 political prisoners and that
there still were 450 disappearances unaccounted for. Sane also urged
the Government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for past
crimes and abuses. The agreement between Amnesty International and the
Government for a 10-year human rights education program still was being
negotiated with the Ministry of Human Rights at year's end. The Ministry
of Human Rights and the Ministry of Education are providing human rights
education for teachers, although the subject is not being taught yet
in the classrooms.
On November 7, the new Minister of the Interior, Driss Jettou, met
with a delegation from the AMDH. He also met with representatives of
several other human rights NGO's. Previous Interior Ministers had never
met with human rights NGO's. On December 9, to mark Human Rights Day,
the King gave an audience to several human rights activists.
The Center for Human Rights Documentation, Training, and Information
is now operational; it was inaugurated in 2000 by the U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Mary Robinson.
Prime Minister Youssoufi chairs a human rights commission that reviews
cases of past and present human rights problems. The commission is composed
of members of the Government, including the Ministers of Justice, Human
Rights, and Interior.
The Royal Consultative Council on Human Rights, an 11-year-old advisory
body to the King, counsels the Palace on human rights issues, and was
the organization charged by the King to resolve cases related to persons
who had disappeared. The CCDH is composed of five working groups responsible
for promoting the protection of human rights. They include groups on
penal law; prison conditions; communications with human rights NGO's;
inhuman conditions of refugees in Polisario-controlled camps in Tindouf,
Algeria; and economic, social, and cultural rights. By Royal Decree
in July, the Government initiated several reforms regarding the organization
and working of the CCDH, to make it more efficient and more independent
of the ministries. The decree also directed the CCDH to submit its own
annual report regarding the human rights situation in the country, and
created an annual human rights prize. The decree enhanced autonomy by
changing the composition of the council to decrease the number of seats
for political parties and unions from 18 to 9, and increase the number
for economic, social and cultural associations. In addition, the number
of votes required for decision-making was lowered from a unanimous vote
to a two-thirds majority. The decree also changed the status of ministerial
delegates from voting to advisory members, thus reducing the influence
of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice. Human rights
organizations favored these changes and helped argue for them, although
some groups believe the changes did not go far enough.
Throughout the year, the Human Rights Ministry held human rights awareness
training sessions with educators and some police personnel. The sessions
were directed at school inspectors at both the primary and secondary
school levels. Up to 75 additional training sessions are planned; the
inspectors in turn are expected to transfer the training to teachers
for integration into their teaching programs. Officials at the Human
Rights Ministry state that some police officers and other enforcement
officials also are being trained. The Government continued efforts to
introduce human rights as a core subject of the national school curriculum.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status
The Constitution provides for the equality of all citizens; however,
non-Muslims and women face discrimination in the law and in traditional
Spousal violence is common. Although a battered wife has the right
to file a complaint with the police, as a practical matter she would
do so only if prepared to bring criminal charges. While physical abuse
legally is grounds for divorce, a court will grant a divorce only if
the woman is able to provide two witnesses to the abuse. Medical certificates
are not sufficient. If the court finds against the woman, she is returned
to her husband's home. Thus, few women report abuses to the authorities.
The Criminal Code provides for severe punishment for men convicted
of rape or sexual assault. The defendants in such cases bear the burden
of proving their innocence. However, sexual assaults often go unreported
because of the stigma attached to the loss of virginity. While not provided
for by law, victims' families may offer rapists the opportunity to marry
their victims in order to preserve the honor of the family. Spousal
rape is not a crime.
The law is more lenient toward men with respect to crimes committed
against their wives; for example, a light sentence may be accorded a
man who murders his wife after catching her in the act of adultery.
However, such "honor crimes," a euphemism that refers to violent
assaults with intent to commit murder against a female for her perceived
immodest or defiant behavior, remain extremely rare in Morocco.
Prostitution is prevalent, especially in urban centers. There are thousands
of teenagers involved in prostitution. Although prostitution itself
is against the law, the Government does not prosecute women who have
been coerced into providing sexual services. Trafficking in persons,
particularly in child maids, is a problem (see Section 6).
Women are subjected to various forms of legal and cultural discrimination.
The civil law status of women is governed by the Code of Personal Status
(known as the "Moudouwana"), which is based on the Malikite
school of Islamic law. Although the Code of Personal Status was reformed
in 1993, women's groups still complain of unequal treatment, particularly
under the laws governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women do
not automatically lose child custody in divorce cases. However, the
courts generally rule in favor of the parent who did not file for the
divorce. Citizenship passes through the father. In order to marry, a
woman generally is required to obtain the permission of her legal guardian,
usually her father. It is much easier for a man to divorce his wife
than for a woman to divorce her husband. Under Islamic law and tradition,
rather than asking for a divorce, a man simply may repudiate his wife
outside of court. Under the 1993 reforms to the Code of Personal Status,
a woman's presence in court is required in order for her husband to
divorce her, although women's groups report that this law frequently
is ignored. However, human rights activists reported that in one NGO-sponsored
test in the late 1990's, officials refused to order a divorce without
the wife being present, despite offers of bribes. Nevertheless, women's
groups complain that men resort to ruses to evade the legal restrictions.
The divorce may be finalized even over the woman's objections, although
in such cases the court grants her unspecified allowance rights.
A woman seeking a divorce has few practical alternatives. She may offer
her husband money to agree to a divorce (known as a khol'a divorce under
Islamic law). The husband must agree to the divorce and is allowed to
specify the amount to be paid, without limit. According to women's groups,
many men pressure their wives to pursue this type of divorce. A woman
also may file for a judicial divorce if her husband takes a second wife,
if he abandons her, or if he physically abuses her. However, divorce
procedures in these cases are lengthy and complicated.
Under the Criminal Code, women generally are accorded the same treatment
as men, but this is not the case for family and estate law, which is
based on the Code of Personal Status. Under the Code of Personal Status,
women inherit only half as much as male heirs. Moreover, even in cases
in which the law provides for equal status, cultural norms often prevent
a woman from exercising those rights. For example, when a woman inherits
property, male relatives may pressure her to relinquish her interest.
While many well-educated women pursue careers in law, medicine, education,
and government service, few make it to the top echelons of their professions.
Women constitute approximately 35 percent of the work force, with the
majority in the industrial, service, and teaching sectors. In 1998 (the
last official statistics available) the Government reported that the
illiteracy rate for women was 67 percent (83 percent in rural areas),
compared with 41 percent for men (50 percent in rural areas). Women
in rural areas are most affected by inequality. Rural women perform
difficult physical labor. Girls are much less likely to be sent to school
than are boys, especially in rural areas, where the quality of schooling
is inferior to urban areas and demands on girls' time for household
chores often prevent school attendance. Some families also keep girls
at home because of the lack of facilities in rural schools. Improving
and extending the network of rural schools to increase girls' school
attendance has been a priority of the Youssoufi government. The 4.8
percent increase in primary school attendance this school year is attributable
largely to the increased numbers of girls attending school. Women who
earn secondary school diplomas have equal access to university education.
The Government and the King continued to promote their proposal to
reform the Personal Status Code (Moudawana) in order to advance women's
rights. Islamists and some other traditional segments of society firmly
opposed the proposal, especially with respect to its more controversial
elements, such as reform of women's legal status in marriage and family
On March 8, the King, Prime Minister, and several other ministers met
with 40 representatives of women's organizations at the Royal Palace.
In April the King created a Consultative Commission for the Moudawana.
However, in September, the ADFM and nine other organizations, collectively
named the Spring of Equality, issued a communique concerning the Moudawana.
The communique expressed disappointment that changes to the Personal
Status Code had not yet been approved, offered specific recommendations
for such changes, and urged the Consultative Commission to expedite
its work. On October 17, the AMDH issued a statement in support of these
demands, but refused to present its case before the Consultative Commission.
The Commission had not announced publicly any actions taken regarding
reform of the Moudawana by year's end.
On May 7, in the newspaper Liberation, the Democratic League for Women's
Rights criticized some imams for attacking female poet Hakima Chaoui
in their sermons, and for harming Islam in general by giving less importance
The European Union and the Government created a national center dealing
with women's issues, which works with the Ministry in Charge of the
Condition of Women, Protection of the Family, and Children, and Integration
of the Handicapped.
The Moroccan Bar Association and the Government have opened 15 support
centers to assist victims of violence.
On November 8, one feminist columnist, Nouzha Skalli, called for a
quota system. She noted that only 3 of 600 members of Parliament were
female, and only 85 of 22,600 municipal councilors. In her article,
published after the Green March holiday, she noted that she was 1 of
35,000 females who actually took place in the Green March in 1975, when
10 percent of the 350,000 positions were reserved for women under a
quota system in place for the event.
A total of 76 NGO's work to advance women's rights and to promote women's
issues. Among these are the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women,
the Union for Women's Action, and the Moroccan Association for Women's
Rights, which advocate enhanced political and civil rights, as well
as numerous NGO's that provide shelters for battered women, teach women
basic hygiene, family planning, and child care, and promote literacy.
Women's groups also are concerned about the September 2002 elections.
On October 13 in Casablanca, the Spring of Equality and other organizations
held a conference regarding the role of women in the elections. The
stated goal was increased numbers of women who vote and who run for
office through a two-phase training process. The British Government
helped subsidize an NGO pamphlet that urged rural women to exercise
their right to vote.
The law provides for compulsory education for children between the
ages of 7 and 13; however, not all children between these ages attend
school due to family decisions and shortfalls in government resources,
and the Government does not enforce the law. According to government
statistics, the percentage of children attending primary school increased
by 4.8 percent in the 2000-01 school year; the Government has set a
goal of having all children in school by 2006.
The Government has had difficulty addressing the problem of child labor
(see Section 6.d.). Young girls are exploited as domestic servants on
a very large scale (see Section 6.f.). Teenage prostitution in urban
centers has been estimated in the thousands by NGO activists. The clientele
consists of both foreign tourists and citizens. More young girls than
boys are involved; however, young boys also work as prostitutes.
The practice of adoptive servitude, in which urban families employ
young rural girls and use them as domestic servants in their homes,
is prevalent (see Sections 6.d. and 6.f.). Credible reports of physical
and psychological abuse in such circumstances are widespread. Some orphanages
have been charged as knowing accomplices in the practice. More often
parents of rural girls "contract" their daughters to wealthy
urban families and collect the salaries for their work as maids. Adoptive
servitude is accepted socially, is unregulated by the Government, and
has only in recent years begun to attract public criticism. However,
at the end of 2000, the Moroccan UNICEF chapter and the National Observatory
of Children's Rights (ONDE), headed by Princess Lalla Meryem, the King's
sister, began a human rights awareness campaign regarding the plight
of child maids. The ONDE continued to publish public service advertisements
in leading publications. In addition, UNICEF and other donors in 2000
funded a pilot project in Casablanca, working through Moroccan NGO's,
to aid young girls by providing basic education, health care, and recreational
opportunities for child maids at five drop-in centers.
The Government has had difficulty addressing the problem of child labor
(see Section 6.d.). The number of children working illegally as domestic
servants is high: 45.4 percent of household employees under the age
of 18 are between the ages of 10 and 12, and 26.4 percent are under
the age of 10, according to an April joint study by the Moroccan League
for the Protection of Children and UNICEF. The legal minimum age of
employment is 15 years. The report denounced the poor treatment a number
of the children received, such as being forced to work all day with
no breaks. The League demanded that the minimum age for employment be
raised and that the Labor Code under consideration strengthen the protection
of child workers.
Another problem facing abandoned children of both sexes is their lack
of civil status. Civil status is necessary to obtain a birth certificate,
passport, or marriage license. In general men are registered at local
government offices; their wives and unmarried children are included
in this registration, which confers civil status. If a father does not
register his child, the child is without civil status and the benefits
of citizenship. It is possible for an individual to self-register, but
the process is long and cumbersome. While any child, regardless of parentage,
may be registered within a month of birth, a court order is required
if registration does not take place in that time. Abandoned children
in some cases receive kafala (state-sponsored care).
Several NGO's, including the Bayti Association and the Moroccan League
for the Protection of Children, work to improve legal protection for
children and to help at-risk children. There are several shelters in
the major cities that provide food and lodging for street children,
while other NGO's work to reduce the exploitation of street children
and to cure those street children with drug addictions.
During the week of April 16, Princess Lalla Meryem hosted the first
Summit of African First Ladies on Childhood in Marrakech. The members
adopted the "Marrakech Declaration," pledging to "promote,
protect, and consecrate girls in Africa." On October 31, Princess
Lalla Hasna presided at the official opening of the SOS Children's Village
south of Casablanca, the third one to open in Morocco.
Persons with Disabilities
A high incidence of disabling disease, especially polio, has resulted
in a correspondingly high number of persons with disabilities. The latest
statistics from the Government estimate the number of persons with disabilities
at 2.2 million, or 7 percent of the population. However, other estimates
are as high as 3 million. While the Ministry of Social Affairs attempts
to integrate persons with disabilities into society, in practice integration
largely is left to private charities. The annual budget for the ministerial
department in charge of affairs concerning persons with disabilities
is only .01 percent of the overall annual budget. Even nonprofit special-education
programs are priced beyond the reach of most families. Typically, their
families support persons with disabilities; some survive by begging.
There are no laws assisting persons with disabilities in housing, transportation,
access to government services, or access to buildings.
The Government continued a pilot training program for the visually
impaired sponsored in part by a member of the royal family. In 2000,
the Government created a special commission for the integration of persons
with disabilities, presided over by Prime Minister Youssoufi. The commission
is responsible for developing programs that facilitate their societal
integration. Also in 2000, the Government instituted an annual "National
Day of the Disabled," which is aimed at increasing public awareness
of issues affecting persons with disabilities. The King's charity, the
Mohammed V Solidarity Fund, makes several donations each year to institutions
supporting persons with disabilities.
On October 31, Member of Parliament and President of the Moroccan Association
of SOS Children's Villages, Amine Demnati, announced that construction
had begun south of Casablanca for a center for persons with disabilities
adjacent to the Children's Village.
On November 16, after the fourth annual "handisports" games
for athletes with disabilities, the King hosted a reception in their
honor at the royal palace in Rabat to increases awareness and acceptance
of persons with disabilities.
On December 5, the International Day of Handicapped Persons, the Ministry
for the Condition of Women, Protection of the Family and Children, and
Integration of the Handicapped, sponsored a 2-day workshop with NGO's
to promote self-employment of the handicapped. The program included
micro-financing for persons with disabilities.
The official language is Arabic. Both French and Arabic are used in
the news media and educational institutions. Science and technical courses
are taught in French, thereby preventing the large, monolingual-Arabic-speaking
population from participation in such programs. Educational reforms
in the past decade have emphasized the use of Arabic in secondary schools.
However, failure to transform the university system similarly has led
to the disqualification of many students from higher education in lucrative
fields. This especially is true among the poor, for whom training in
French to supplement the few hours a week that it is taught in public
schools is not always affordable.
About 60 percent of the population claim Berber heritage, including
the Royal Family. Berber cultural groups contend that Berber traditions
and the Berber language (actually three dialects, Tamazight, Tachelhit
and Tarifit) are being lost rapidly. A number of Berber associations
claimed that the Government refuses to register births for children
with traditional Berber names, discourages the public display of the
Berber language, limits the activities of Berber associations, and continues
to Arabize the names of towns, villages, and geographic landmarks. Nevertheless,
a full page of a major national newspaper is devoted on a monthly basis
to articles and poems on Berber culture, which are printed in the Berber
language, although with Latin script. Official media broadcast in the
Berber language for limited periods each day.
On October 17, the King issued a royal decree creating the Royal Institute
for Amazigh (Berber) Culture (IRCAM), as he had promised to do in his
July 30 Throne Day speech. According to the decree, the IRCAM was to
receive funding from the Ministry of Finance to work in the areas of
education, the media, culture, and local government administration.
At year's end, funding had not been made available. The King said that
the Berber culture was the property of all Moroccans, and warned against
anyone trying to use it for political purposes. Press reports indicated
that the rector of ICRAM would be Mohamed Chafik, the drafter of the
On April 14, authorities in Fez banned a meeting scheduled to commemorate
the anniversary of the cultural and political "Berber Manifesto."
The Government also banned the Berber national conference scheduled
for June 22 to 24, although it ultimately allowed the conference to
be held in Rabat on November 9 to 11. The activists called on the Government
to recognize and teach Berber languages; to provide more information
about their culture in the press; and to end restrictions on registering
Berber names for children. The conference plans a bigger meeting in
late December. Attendees disagreed over the establishment and the composition
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Workers are free to establish and join trade unions, although the laws
reportedly have not been implemented in some areas, and the unions themselves
are not completely free from government interference. About half a million
of the country's 9 million workers are unionized in 17 trade union federations.
Three federations dominate the labor scene: The Union Marocaine du Travail
(UMT), the Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT), and the Union
Generale des Travailleurs Marocains (UGTM). The UMT has no political
party affiliation. The CDT is affiliated with the ruling Socialist Union
of Popular Forces of Prime Minister Youssoufi and the UGTM with the
Istiqlal party, the second partner in the ruling coalition. It is widely
believed that the Ministry of Interior has informants within the unions
who monitor union activities and the election of officers. Sometimes
union officers are subject to government pressure. Union leadership
does not always uphold the rights of members to select their own leaders.
There has been no case of the rank and file voting out its current leadership
and replacing it with another.
Workers have a right to strike and do so; however, the law requires
compulsory arbitration of disputes. Work stoppages normally are intended
to advertise grievances and last 24 to 72 hours or less. Unions organized
267 work stoppages during the year resulting in 338,000 lost workdays,
according to Labor Ministry statistics.
The Government in a number of instances used security forces to break
up demonstrating strikers, at times using excessive force in doing so
(see Section 2.b.). Article 288 of the Penal Code, which the UMT wants
repealed, permits employers to initiate criminal prosecutions of workers
for stopping work if they strike. The Government has the authority to
break up demonstrations in public areas that do not have government
authorization, or to prevent the unauthorized occupancy of private space
such as a factory.
According to press reports (see Section 2.b.), on October 11, police
used force to break up a sit-in on board a ship by dock workers, and
arrested 60 union members.
On November 14, security forces using clubs broke up an attempted sit-in
by striking teachers in front of the Ministry of Finances in Rabat.
According to press reports, some of the strikers were injured seriously
(see Section 2.b.).
In November 2000, security forces reportedly used violent means to
break up a 5-day sit-in strike at a canning factory in the southern
city of Agadir. The attack reportedly resulted in the death of one worker
and injuries to eight others. Conflicting reports attributed the death
to either police abuse or "natural causes." No charges were
filed in connection with the death.
According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions,
in November 2000, the management of a multinational textile factory
in Sale responded to their employees' election of 8 members of a trade
union committee by firing all 8 elected workers and posting a large
banner at the factory entrance that read "NO UNION." The eight
trade union leaders subsequently were harassed and assaulted by company
security personnel. They were detained briefly at a police station.
The Governor of Sale reportedly responded to the situation by commenting
publicly, "I do not recognize nor want a trade union in my Prefecture."
The eight workers later were allowed to return to their jobs, but it
is not known if they were allowed to establish a union.
In August 2000, during labor unrest near Casablanca, the nephew of
a private transportation company owner drove a bus into a crowd of striking
workers, killing 3 persons and injuring 12, in an attempt to end the
occupation and obstruction of the company's bus depot. The workers were
demonstrating to have their salaries increased to the level of the new
national minimum wage and to compel the company to make its contributions
to the national social security administration, as required by law.
Government security forces arrested the nephew and son of the owner,
the owner himself, and local thugs the company allegedly hired to intimidate
the strikers. The owner's daughter also was charged in the case. There
were no further developments in the ongoing investigation by year's
During a February 2000 operation in the village of Tarmilet (48 miles
from the capital), security forces used force, including rubber bullets,
tear gas, and water cannons, to remove striking workers who had blockaded
a water bottling factory for almost 3 months to protest layoffs of temporary
workers. Dozens of strikers and members of the security forces were
injured during the operation. Security forces also reportedly arrested
worker sympathizers who were on-site, in addition to more than a dozen
factory workers. An investigation into the incident remained open at
No charges were filed based on the accusations of trucker and regional
UGTM bureau member Sadok El-Kihal. El-Kihal was arrested and jailed
on charges of forming a criminal gang and setting a vehicle on fire
during a national trucker's strike in June 1999. He contacted the AMDH
after his May 2000 royal pardon release with accusations that he had
been arrested, jailed, tortured, and falsely convicted by authorities
(see Section 1.c.).
Unions may sue to have labor laws enforced, and employers may sue unions
when they believe that unions have overstepped their authority.
Unions belong to regional labor organizations and maintain ties with
international trade union secretariats. The UMT is a member of the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right to organize and bargain collectively is implied in the constitutional
provisions on the right to strike and the right to join organizations;
however, the laws governing collective bargaining are inadequate. Trade
union federations compete among themselves to organize workers. Any
group of eight workers may organize a union and a worker may change
union affiliation easily. A work site may contain several independent
locals or locals affiliated with more than one labor federation.
Collective bargaining has been a longstanding tradition in some parts
of the economy, such as the industrial sector, and is becoming more
prevalent in the service sector, including banking, health and the civil
service. The wages and conditions of employment of unionized workers
generally are set in discussions between employer and worker representatives.
However, wages for the vast majority of workers are set unilaterally
by employers. Labor disputes have arisen in some cases as the result
of employers failing to implement collective bargaining agreements.
The most serious example was the Government's failure to implement an
agreement negotiated with the three major teachers' unions in December
2000. Following the Government's failure to include any needed adjustments
in its 2002 budget, the major teachers' unions went on strike for 3
days in November.
Employers wishing to dismiss workers are required by law to notify
the provincial governor through the labor inspector's office. In cases
in which employers plan to replace dismissed workers, a government labor
inspector provides replacements and mediates the cases of workers who
protest their dismissal. Any worker who is dismissed for committing
a serious infraction of work rules is entitled by law to a court hearing.
In general the Government ensures the observance of labor laws in larger
companies and in the public sector. In the informal economy, such as
in the family workshops-dominated handicrafts sector, employers routinely
ignore labor laws and regulations, and government inspectors lack the
resources to monitor violations effectively.
There is no law specifically prohibiting antiunion discrimination.
Under the ostensible justification of "separation for cause,"
employers have dismissed workers for union activities that are regarded
as threatening to employer interests. The courts have the authority
to reinstate such workers, but are unable to enforce rulings that compel
employers to pay damages and back pay. Ministry of Labor inspectors
serve as investigators and conciliators in labor disputes, but they
are few in number and do not have the resources to investigate all cases.
Unions have resorted increasingly to litigation to resolve labor disputes.
Labor law reform is such a controversial issue that a draft revised
Labor Code has remained under discussion among the social partners and
in parliamentary committee for more than 20 years. According to employer
groups, the law makes it extremely difficult to fire or lay off permanent
employees. The standard for legally firing a permanent employee is "serious
error" committed by the employee, and the courts set the burden
of proof very high. Reductions in force due to economic hardship also
become mired in politics and are extremely hard to implement.
Labor law applies equally to the small Tangier export zone. The proportion
of unionized workers in the export zone is about the same as in the
rest of the economy, roughly 5 percent.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by royal decree, and when
authorities become aware of instances of forced labor, courts enforce
the decree; however, in practice the Government lacks the resources
to inspect all places of employment to ensure that forced labor is not
being used, and forced labor persists in the practice of adoptive servitude.
The Government prohibits forced and bonded labor by children, but does
not enforce this prohibition effectively. The practice of adoptive servitude,
in which families employ young girls and use them as domestic servants,
is socially accepted, and the Government does not regulate it. Credible
reports of physical and psychological abuse in such cases are widespread
(see Sections 5 and 6.f.). Women and children being forced into prostitution
is a problem, especially in cities with large numbers of tourists (see
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The minimum employment age was raised from 12 to 15, to be effective
January 6, 2002. The minimum age applies to all sectors and includes
apprenticed children and those in family businesses. Various laws provide
protective measures for children under 16 at work. The law prohibits
children under 16 from being employed more than 10 hours per day, including
a minimum of a 1-hour break. All employees are limited to a maximum
48-hour regularly scheduled workweek.
Abuse of child labor laws is common, particularly in the informal sector.
In practice children often are apprenticed before age 12, particularly
in the informal handicraft industry. The use of minors is common in
the small family-run workshops that produce rugs, ceramics, woodwork,
and leather goods. Children, particularly rural girls, also are employed
informally as domestic servants and usually receive little or no payment.
Safety and health conditions, as well as wages in businesses that employ
children, often are substandard. The law prohibits forced or bonded
labor by children; however, the Government does not enforce the law
effectively (see Section 6.c.). The practice of adoptive servitude often
is characterized by physical and psychological abuse (see Sections 5,
6.c., and 6.f.). There are thousands of teenage prostitutes in urban
centers (see Section 6.f.). The Ministry of Education, in cooperation
with the Ministry of Health and with the support of UNICEF, is pursuing
a strategy to ensure basic education and health services for child workers.
Ministry of Labor inspectors are responsible for enforcing child labor
regulations, which generally are well observed in the industrialized,
unionized sector of the economy. However, the inspectors are not authorized
to monitor the conditions of domestic servants. The Government maintains
that the informal handicrafts sector is difficult to monitor.
The Government lacks the resources to enforce laws against child labor,
and there is general acceptance of the presumption that, to properly
learn traditional handicraft skills, it is necessary for children to
start working at a young age. In addition many citizens claim that having
children working to learn a craft is better than having them live on
the streets, where they might turn to juvenile delinquency, prostitution,
or substance abuse.
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Forecasting, with funding from
UNICEF and through collaboration with domestic NGO's, conducted a survey
from April to June 2000 of domestic employees in Casablanca. The study
concluded that there are approximately 13,000 girls under age 15 employed
as child maids in Casablanca. Another study estimated that 20,000 child
maids are working in Morocco's other major cities. According to the
survey, over 80 percent of the child maids are illiterate and over 80
percent are from rural areas. Their pay ranges from $20 to $50 a month
(220 to 550 dirhams) plus room and board; however, in about half the
cases, the girl's pay is given to a family member or not provided at
all. The girls report working from early morning to late night, often
without a break, under conditions of physical or psychological abuse.
Four percent report having been sexually abused by a member of the employer's
household. UNICEF and several domestic NGO's are working, with government
support, to begin to provide the child maids with education and health
care, as well as the opportunity to return to their families or to leave
their employers and be trained for other jobs. The Moroccan League for
the Protection of Children demanded that the minimum age for employment
be raised and that the Labor Code be revised to strengthen the protection
of child workers.
In September 2000, authorities in Fez announced plans to open four
centers for the protection of children handicraft workers. Cosponsored
by UNICEF, the centers are to provide children's rights education to
child workers, their families, and employers. The centers are to take
in street children and provide them with handicraft training and recreational
opportunities. Health services for children also are planned for each
center. One center opened in September 2000, and four more opened during
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
In July 2000, the Government increased the minimum wage by 10 percent
to approximately $162 (1,800 dirhams) per month in the industrialized
sector and to approximately $8.10 (90 dirhams) per day for agricultural
workers; however, businesses in the extensive informal sector often
ignore the minimum wage requirements. Neither the minimum wage for the
industrialized sector nor the wage for agricultural workers provides
a decent standard of living for a worker and family, even with government
subsidies for food, diesel fuel, and public transportation. Unions continue
to appeal unsuccessfully for a minimum wage of approximately $180 (2,000
dirhams) per month. In many cases, several family members combine their
income to support the family. Most workers in the industrial sector
earn more than the minimum wage. They generally are paid between 13
and 16 months' salary, including bonuses, each year.
The minimum wage is not enforced effectively in the informal and handicraft
sectors. However, the Government no longer pays less than the minimum
wage to workers at the lowest civil service grades. To increase employment
opportunities for recent graduates, the Government allows firms to hire
for a limited period through a subsidized internship program at less
than the minimum wage.
The law provides for a 48-hour maximum workweek, with no more than
10 hours worked in any single day, premium pay for overtime, paid public
and annual holidays, and minimum conditions for health and safety, including
a prohibition on night work for women and minors. As with other labor
regulations and laws, these are not observed universally and are not
enforced effectively by the Government in all sectors.
Occupational health and safety standards are rudimentary, except for
a prohibition on the employment of women in certain dangerous occupations.
Labor inspectors attempt to monitor working conditions and investigate
accidents, but lack sufficient resources. While workers in principle
have the right to remove themselves from work situations that endanger
health and safety without jeopardizing their continued employment, there
were no reports of workers attempting to exercise this right.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons; under
the Penal Code perpetrators are prosecuted either as scam artists, corrupters
of minors, or persons who force others into prostitution. Trafficking
in persons is a problem.
Prostitution is prevalent, particularly in cities with large numbers
of tourists, as well as near towns with large military installations
(see Section 5). NGO activists estimate that there are thousands of
teenage prostitutes in urban centers. There were reports that women
and girls were forced into prostitution. On February 8, L'Opinion reported
that 26 persons had been arrested for involvement in trafficking in
minors. The persons arrested allegedly worked for a network that reportedly
operated in Sale, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangier, Tetouan, and
Agadir on a large scale. The preferred targets were girls aged under
14. According to the weekly newsmagazine Maroc Hebdo International,
as of October 26, 155 persons had been prosecuted for the sexual exploitation
of children. Of those, 128 were in prison. Their victims included 101
boys and 66 girls.
Moroccans also are trafficked abroad. Traffickers approach their victims
by offering them money. In those cases where unwitting Moroccan women
have been recruited to perform sexual services outside of the country,
traffickers usually have deceived them into thinking that they will
be filling secretarial or domestic servant jobs. In November the press
reported the uncovering of a trafficking network in which young Moroccan
women paid $2,000 in return for fictional hotel work contracts and travel
to Amman, Jordan, where they were forced into prostitution. This was
similar to a scam reported in 1999 between Morocco and the Persian Gulf
states. In October the press also reported the arrest of nine persons
in Casablanca running a secret emigration network offering fraudulent
work contracts and transport to Europe in return for payments of about
Internal trafficking is a problem, particularly of women for sexual
exploitation or of young girls for domestic service. The practice of
adoptive servitude, in which families employ young girls and use them
as indentured servants, is a large scale problem that is accepted socially,
and the Government does not regulate it (see Section 5). The Planning
Ministry, in a 2001 study funded by UNICEF, concluded that some 13,000
girls under 15 are working as child maids in Casablanca alone (See Section
6d). Reports of physical and psychological abuse in such cases are widespread;
four percent of the girls report sexual abuse by members of the employer's
household. Some orphanages have been charged as knowing accomplices
in providing these young child maids; however, more often, parents of
rural girls "contract" their daughters as maids to wealthier
urban families and collect their salaries (see Sections 5 and 6.d.)
The country is also a transit point for trafficking and alien smuggling.
From January 1 to June 30, the Spanish Government arrested approximately
35,000 persons attempting to enter Europe illegally from Morocco, of
whom 15,000 were from other African countries or Asia. Those potential
victims of trafficking who were detained, jailed, or deported usually
were third country nationals transiting the country en route to Europe.
In October, the Government hosted the Arab-African Forum against Sexual
Exploitation of Children, under UNICEF auspices. The conference included
frank discussion of a subject that is commonly taboo. The Government
requested that the participants present their results at the World Congress
against Sexual Exploitation of Children in Japan in December.
A national campaign against the employment of child maids and promoting
schooling for all children was launched in October 2000 and continued
throughout 2001. The campaign was organized by a domestic NGO with support
from the Government, as well as UNICEF and other donors. The National
Observatory for Child Welfare provided legal counsel to victims of abuse.
Responses to cases of child maid abuse vary depending on the situation.
The shared government and NGO goal is to return them to their families
if possible; if not, they may be placed in a women's or girls' shelter.
Several domestic NGO's, as well as a branch of Terre Des Hommes, a
Swiss-based international NGO, help victims of trafficking by assisting
and rehabilitating street children, educating delinquents and runaways,
assisting single mothers to become financially independent, educating
youths and prostitutes about the dangers of unprotected sex, and advocating
in favor of women's rights.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, U.S.
State Department, March 2002