Morocco has acceded to the seven major United Nations conventions on human rights, namely: the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights; on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1979), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1970), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1993), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1993), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993), and the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1993). It has also ratified the two optional protocols of the Rights of the Child Convention concerned with the involvement of children in armed conflicts (2002) and on sale of children, exploiting children in prostitution and pornographic materials (2001).
Morocco has also acceded to seven of the eight International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on human rights, namely: the convention (98) on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (1957), the two conventions (29 and 105) on Forced or Compulsory Labour (1957 and 1966 respectively), the two conventions (100 and 111) concerning the Elimination of Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (1979 and 1963 respectively)., and the two conventions (138 and 182) pertaining to Forbidding the Employment of Children and Minors (2000 and 2001 respectively).
Morocco made reservations on certain provisions of the conventions it acceded to:
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: article (22) Morocco considered itself not obligated by the text of this article concerning the settlement of disputes among state parties over interpreting or implementing the convention. It added that any such dispute requires the agreement of all parties concerned on referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: declaration on article (2) pertaining to equality before the law and prohibiting discrimination against women; on condition that its provisions do not contradict with constitutional requirements that regulate accession to the throne in Morocco, or with the provisions of Islamic Law (Shari'a). Another declaration on article (15/4) concerning equal rights to freedom of movement and residence. Morocco also made a reservation on article (9/2) concerning equal rights of parents as to their children's citizenship. Article (16) pertaining to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution; Morocco tied that right to provisions of Islamic Shari'a. Article (29) pertaining to resolving disputes among state parties over implementing or interpreting this convention.
- The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: article (20) Morocco declared that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the committee as described by this article, and considered itself not obliged by the first clause of this article. It made reservations on article (21) concerning the right of a state party to submit a complaint against another state party.
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child: article (14) concerning a child's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, respect parents rights and duties to guide children to practice their right in harmony with their development capacities. Morocco declared that Islam is the religion of the Kingdom.
- The Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: article (92/1) concerning resolving disputes among state parties over implementing or interpreting the convention.
Morocco has agreed to the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam" issued in 1990 by foreign ministers of Muslim countries. The declaration is a guiding document that does not require ratification. Morocco also acceded to the "Arab Charter of Human Rights/Amended" prepared by the Arab Summit in Tunisia in May 2004, but did not ratify it like most Arab states. It has also acceded to the "African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights" before it suspended its membership in the Organization of African Unity in 1984.
Human Rights Institutions
Morocco has all sorts of human rights institutions, governmental, national and non-governmental. The ministry of human rights was dissolved in 2004 and its components were distributed to other concerned agencies.
The "Advisory Council for Human Rights" established by royal ordinance in 1990 is considered the earliest model of national institutions in the Arab World. It started with limited jurisdiction and independence but was more developed by a new law promulgated in 2001 that gave the council greater jurisdiction and independence compatible with "Paris Principles". The council assists the King in handling, protecting and advancing human rights affairs and in guaranteeing the exercise of such rights. The council's assistance to the King takes the form of giving its opinion, recommendations, receiving complaints, and examining the compatibility of legislative texts with international human rights conventions acceded to by Morocco. The council also disseminates the culture of human rights, protects the rights of Moroccan immigrants and publishes an annual report on human rights condition in Morocco, in addition to special reports on various aspects of its tasks, such as inspection of prisons. The council's website is (www.ccdh.org.ma).
The "Grievances Court" established by royal decree on December 9, 2001 complements the work of the Advisory Council for Human Rights and the judicial system. The Grievances Court settles non-judicial disputes that arise between state agencies and private citizens, hears complaints and grievances against public and administrative authorities, and mediates to remove or lift proven injustice. It also possesses the power to propose legislative, administrative and judicial reforms.
The King announced on January 7, 2004 the establishment of a "Commission for Equity and Reconciliation" whose aim is to close the file of previous human rights violations in Morocco through arriving at a just settlement outside the judicial system and to redress inflicted harm by means of an approach that guarantees equity, rehabilitation and re-integration. The Commission's work lasted two years. A summary of the commission's final report recommended paying compensations to 9280 victims of human rights violations. The report also indicated that 322 persons were killed by security forces during demonstrations and protests, while 174 persons were killed in circumstances of despotic detention. The Commission also identified 85 persons who were detained in secret prisons.
Some non-governmental organizations concerned with human rights work on all sorts of human rights, such as "The Moroccan Society for Human Rights" (1979) and "The Moroccan Organization for Human Rights" (1988). Some other NGOs specialize in the rights of certain groups, such as "The Union Working on Integrating Women in Development" (1995). Still other NGOs specialize in certain types of rights, such as the "Human Right Center for Studies, Research, Legal Reform and Human Rights Education" (2000). Moreover, these NGOs have established a chapter of Amnesty International called "Amnesty International/Moroccan Groups" (1994).
A "North African Human Rights Coordination Group" was established by 14 Human Rights organizations from Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. The Group aims at strengthening relations among its members, exchanging experiences, protecting, advancing Human Rights in their countries and empowering the North African Human Rights movements at the international and regional levels. The Group held its founding meeting in Morocco on March 30, 2006, approved its internal statute and a preliminary action program. The founding meeting chose the president of the Moroccan Human Rights Society as a coordinator for the Group and the president of the Moroccan Human Rights Organization as his deputy. The group decided to hold the meeting of its general assembly after two years in Tunisia in solidarity with the Tunisian Human Rights Association.
Achievements on the Road to Good Governance
1. A new family law based on equality between men and women with regard to caring for the family, marriage age, equality between boys and girls in terms of custody, and made guardianship in marriage a right exercised by adult females according to their choosing and interest. The law also treats husbands and wives equally in terms of marital rights and duties; approved the provisions of agreed on divorce between husbands and wives under judicial supervision; banned marrying more that one wife (polygamy) if there is a possibility of not rendering fair treatment to all wives and authorized the judge to make sure that a multi-wife marriage could provide fair treatment in all life aspects; gave women the right to make a condition on her husband not to marry another wife, and the right to divorce him on pretext of harm. The law approved the principle of automatic intervention by public prosecution as a principal party in law suits relating to implementation of family provisions including setting up a family court as soon as possible and founding a "Family Solidarity" fund. The law also includes several provisions pertaining to protecting the wife from her husband's excessive use of divorce right. The law also extended the jurisdiction of confirming marriages that took place without written contracts.
2. The government approved on December 28, 2004 a draft law for punishing perpetrators of torture that sentence them to prison terms ranging from 5 to 30 years. The law intensifies the punishment to life imprisonment of any person who rapes a victim before or after torture, or who tortures minors, the elderly, and the disabled or pregnant women. It also punishes by imprisonment any person who encourages, covers up, or does not report an act of torture committed during detention.
3. The Moroccan government ratified at the end of March 2005 an international convention for combating corruption that aims at prosecuting those who commit acts of corruption, and recovering all financial revenues accrued from those acts.
4. The council of ministers approved on July 6, 2005 a new political parties law that forbids establishing parties on religious, racial or tribal grounds (establishing political parties was previously subjected to laws of associations and public freedoms). The power to settle disputes between political parties and the state was delegated to the judiciary.
5. Morocco continued its efforts to enhance equality in terms of civil rights between men and women. The government lifted through a new penal code promulgated on October 3, 2003 the restriction concerning the requirement of obtaining the permission of the competent court by a complaining wife if she wants to stand as a civil party against her husband in the dispute that is being heard by the court. Moreover, the criminal code was amended on November 11, 2003 regarding the stipulation stating that a husband or a wife could benefit from an extenuating alibi in case any of them kills or injures his/her partner upon surprising him/her in an act of adultery.
6. Morocco enhanced women's participation in parliament through the quota system. The electoral law amended in 2002 allocated 30 parliamentary seats to be contested by women within the framework of national lists, in addition to their right to run independently. That allocation enabled women in 2002 elections to occupy 35 parliamentary seats that constitute 8.10% of the 325-seat parliament.