Washington, DC (March 7, 2013) — In keeping with his commitment to speedy implementation of reforms in Morocco, and dedication to advancing human rights and an independent judiciary, His Majesty King Mohammed VI welcomed recommendations on judicial reform presented by the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Morocco’s human rights watchdog. These were detailed in four reports submitted by the Council to: advance changes to Morocco’s judicial system as set forth in the 2011 Constitutional reforms; respond to the expectations of Moroccan society; and meet pertinent international norms of human rights, justice and the separation of powers.
King Mohammed VI stressed the importance of fast-paced reform and called on all government institutions to fully assume their responsibilities to achieve it. He described the recommendation as a significant contribution to advancing Morocco’s dialogue on democracy, consolidating the rule of law, and protecting human rights and the independence of the judiciary.
- The first report outlines the organization and procedures of the Constitutional Court, which will oversee free and fair elections and uphold principles and rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
- The second report addresses proper procedures for carrying out a major innovation in the 2011 Constitution−allowing parties to a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of a law.
- The third report recommends narrowing the jurisdiction of military courts, in keeping with the new Constitution and international law. CNDH president Driss El Yazami said the Council recommends that civilians no longer be tried before military courts, and tribunals should be limited to disciplinary measures against military personnel and trial of military personnel for “undermining state security or terrorism.”
- The fourth report provides recommendations on the speedy establishment of the Higher Judiciary Council created by the Constitution, which will promote separation of powers and increase judicial independence.
The Council’s recommendations, which come after six months of intense work, will now go to Morocco’s Parliament. Under the Constitution, these recommendations will have to be debated, turned into legislation, and passed by the Parliament to become law.
In The Huffington Post, Middle East Specialist Joseph Braude wrote, “I feel encouraged by the announcement of the king’s intention to dramatically reduce the role of military courts in Morocco. It would be in keeping with a tradition of reforms that won acknowledgment from human rights groups in the past, notably an Equity and Reconciliation Commission which acknowledged the suffering of victims of security service brutality under the reign of King Hassan II and compensated the families for their losses.”
On Monday, El Yazami presented the reports at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in the presence of Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Mendez has just returned from Morocco and issued a report that “highlights on the one side, the existence in Morocco of an important judicial and institutional arsenal which has allowed the emergence of a true culture of human rights; and identifies, on the other side, the challenges to be surmounted to put in place the international dispositions and practices.” As it continues to promote human rights and finalizes a national mechanism for the prevention of torture, Morocco is also seeking membership on the Human Rights Council.
CNDH was established by HM the King in 2011, with El Yazami as its head, to protect human rights in Morocco. For more on CNDH, go to Morocco’s National Council on Human Rights, at: http://www.ccdh.org.ma/?lang=en.
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