Rabat, 14 December 2012
At the conclusion of a six-day visit to Rabat by a delegation of anti-torture experts, the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) calls on the governmental authorities to ensure that thereform process leads to an end to torture and to full accountability. The delegation calls on theauthorities to work with civil society to ensure that advances in the constitution, legislation,human rights mechanisms, plans of action and strategic plans, are coupled with adequatemeasures to ensure the success of such reforms. It is clear to the delegation that the biggestchallenge facing the improvement of human rights in Morocco is the difference between the rateof reform and the rate of implementation of the reforms. In this accountability for torture mustbecome a priority.
The OMCT delegation wishes to express its appreciation for the openness of the discussions withdifferent authorities on the reforms required to end any practices of torture and ill treatment. Thedelegation met with the head of the Inter-ministerial Delegation for Human Rights (DIDH), thehead of the Delegation for the Administration of Prisons, and representatives of the NationalCouncil on Human Rights (CNDH), the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.
The OMCT recognizes improvements of human rights protection made in the 2011 constitution,the creation of the DIDH, the recent steps taken to ratify three optional protocols, including theOptional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), and looks forward to theseprocesses reaching completion. The delegation is encouraged to see that the debate on thecreation of a national prevention mechanism is ongoing, as well as discussions on ratifying theRome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The ratification of the Rome Statute wouldrepresent a definitive commitment to combating impunity.
The OMCT supports discussions on moving towards the abolition of the death penalty, andstrongly encourages the State to take the next natural step, after having a moratorium in placesince 1993, and the project to reduce the number of crimes allowing for the death penalty from 41to nine. The abolition of the death penalty would represent a monumental step not only forMorocco, but also for the entire region, and would be emblematic of the State’s desire to set anew and historic human rights record. In this regard, the OMCT strongly encourages thegovernment to vote for abolition in the 20 December vote before the General Assembly, as thisrepresents a logical step given the moratorium in place since twenty years.
The decades of focused work on the part of Moroccan NGOs has proven essential to changingMorocco’s human rights record and will be a fundamental condition for further progress. Thedelegation encourages the Moroccan State to intensify its efforts to partner with civil society notonly in developing plans of action to address human rights violations, but also implicating themin the implementation process and allowing it to monitor its progress.
Unfortunately despite the guarantees enshrined in the Constitution and the new mechanismscreated to monitor and ensure human rights, the delegation met with several communities that arecritical of State, and these communities presented serious allegations that practices of torture andill-treatment by the police and other law enforcement bodies continue and that impunity for suchviolations so far remains the rule. The information received confirms serious concerns expressedearlier this year by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
The OMCT invites the authorities to take all steps to address such allegations, give victims andtheir families detailed responses based on effective and independent investigations, and grantadequate reparations where violations are found.
It is thus vital to ensure that the reform process does not remain a written exercise, but that suchreforms reach those individuals in a position to violate human rights, and protect the mostvulnerable populations. Particular attention must be paid to the vigilant monitoring of conditionsin prisons, police stations, and other centers of detention, as well as measures to ensure theindependence of the judiciary, and the proper training of all state officials exercising positions ofauthority, including the General Office of National Security (DSGN). It is equally vital to ensurea clear separation between law enforcement and intelligence and ensure effective legal andparliamentary oversight over the DSGN.
Background of the OMCT mission:
The delegation was led by Dick Marty, OMCT’s Vice-president, former state prosecutor of theCanton of Ticino, member of the Swiss Council of States and former President of the Legal andHuman Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It alsoincluded the OMCT’s Human Rights Officer for the Middle East and North Africa region, BelkisWille, and was undertaken in cooperation with members of the SOS Torture Network, theMoroccan Organisation for Human Rights (OMDH) and the Association for Human Rights inMorocco (AMDH).
This mission was carried out in the context of the submission of the fourth periodic report ofMorocco, which was reviewed by the Committee Against Torture on 1-2 November 2011 inGeneva. The OMCT carried out a mission to Morocco in July 2011. During this visit the OMCTdelegation carried out research in order to draft to an alternative report for the Committee. Thisreport was written in collaboration with the Moroccan Committee Against Torture, and with theMoroccan Organisation for Human Rights (OMDH). The report was submitted to the Committeein November 2011, in order to provide the Committee with NGO perspectives to thegovernment’s implementation of the Convention Against Torture (Convention).
This follow-up mission forms part of global efforts led by the OMCT to foster theimplementation of the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture undertaken withthe financial support of the European Union and the Oak Foundation.
For further information:
Belkis Wille in Tunis - firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +216 22 194 051
Morocco and Its Observance of the Convention Against Torture: Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture
Concluding Observations of the Committee Against Torture, 21 December 2011