Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

The Constitution of Morocco provides for a pluralistic political system and a parliamentary
form of government with an Independent judiciary. However, while
amendments to the Constitution approved in a Septemher referendum gave somewhat
more pwwer to the Prime Minister and Parliament, ultimate authority remains
with the King, who appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister and who may dissolve
the Parliament and rule by decree. Past elections to Parliament and municipal
councils were not free of government manipulation. Official results of the September
constitutional referendum showed a 97.27-percent voter turnout with 99.96 percent
voting in favor of the amendments, a result widely challenged by opposition and
other observers.
The security apparatus is composed of several overlapping police and paramilitary
organizations operating within a framework of written legal provisions designed to
maintain public order. The Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST), Surete
Nationale, auxiliary forces, and judicial police are under the supervision of the Minister
of the Interior, while the Gendarmerie Royale, though technically a branch of
the armed forces, reports directly to the palace. Security forces continued to commit
human rights abuses, including torture. According to the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency, total imlitary expenditures for 1989 were $1,203,000,000.
There is no indication that efforts will be made to reduce these expenditures in the
near future.
In Morocco's free enterprise economy, about 40 percent of the work force is engaged
in agriculture, which provides on average about 16 percent of the gross domestic
product. Since the early 1980's, Morocco has actively pursued a program of
economic reform and liberalization which has recently helped spur growth and investment,
particularly in light industry. Total employment has been increasing, but
not enou^ to offset the rapid growth of the available work force.
The human rights situation in Morocco regressed somewhat in 1992. The Royal
Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH), created by King Hassan in 1990
to make reform recommendations, made no new recommendations in 1992. Rather,
the CCDH appeared increasingly to be manipulated by the Government for propaganda
purposes. There was increasingly strong government pressure on the rignts
of free speech and press in cases perceived to affect the security of the State, most
notably in the politically motivated trial and sentencing of labor leader Noubir
Amaoui. A few political prisoners were released in 1992, including the last three
members of the leitist group, Hal Amam, jailed since the 1970's, although significantly
fewer political prisoners were released than in 1991. Also released were the
last two inmates of the infamous secret detention facility at Tazmamart who were
transferred to Kenitra prison in 1991. Widespread abuses and important restrictions
on basic human rights continued. Credible reports persisted of torture and police
brutality, with no new reports of government efforts to punish perpetrators. Other
principal problems included inability of citizens to change the government, arbitrary
arrest and detention, lack of fair trial in political and security cases, lack of an independent
Judiciary, and restrictions on the freedoms of travel, assembly and association,
ana religion. Constraints on women's rights also continued. King Hassan undertook
a campaign in August to reform Moroccan law to better insure observance
of equal rights for women, but no specific improvements had been implemented by
years end.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom, from
a. Politiccd and Other Extrajudicial Killing.—There were several credible reports
of death in police custody in 1992, the most publicized of which was the death in
January of a member of a group of striking workers conducting a sit-in at the Royal
Office of Complaints. The striker reportemy died as a result of injuries inflicted by
the police as they broke up the sit-in. The Government oflicially denied the allega\
tion, claiming the man died of a heart attack. In December a 62-year-old street vendor
taken in a sweep in Marrakech died after 1 hour in police custody. A separate,
well-publicized case involving a death in custody in October 1991 remained unsettled,
with the trial of police oHicials implicated in the death apparently postponed
with no date set.
      b. Disappearance.
^There were no reported permanent disappearances in 1992.
Temporary "disappearances" continued to result from the practice of holding persons
in pretrial inconmiunicado detention, without notifying families or attorneys, for
longer than the legal limit of 48 hours. In some cases, these disappearances took
the form of apparent kidnapings in which the victims were abducted by security
force elements in unmarked cars. The victims were released days or sometimes
weeks later, either by the police or by their unidentified "kidnapers."
In March the family of Houcine el-Manouzi, a union activist who disappeared in
1972, issued a oonununique claiming el-Manouzi was still alive and being held in
a secret detention facility at the military fortress of Ahermoumou. In August a committee
of support for el-Manouzi demanded information on his whereabouts but received
no official response. Relatives publicly sought information about three other
men who disappeared in 1964 and 1973 and claimed that the men were being detained
at Ahermoumou. An oraanization in Europe called the Conmiittees for the
Fight Against Repression in Morocco claimed in May that the Government maintained
four other clandestine detention centers. The existence of the detention centers
and the detention of the four men were not independently confirmed. Moroccan
human rights groups continued to assert that an indeterminate number of permanent
"disappeared persons" remain to be accounted for by the Government.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Constitution contains no specific guarantee against torture or abuse at the
hands of government officials. Credible reports of torture and degrading treatment
persisted at the reduced level seen in 1991. Torture and mistreatment occurred
most oiten during the initial period of incommunicado detention following arrest and
were used to extract confessions. Methods of torture included beatings (particularly
on the soles of the feet), sleep deprivation, partial suffocation, electric shocks, keeping
prisoners blindfolded and handcuffed for weeks on end, or keeping them naked
and alone in daik punishment cells or latrines. Following conviction, prisoners are
ofl«n subjected to random violence by guards and deliberately deprived of family
visits, sleep, baths, blankets, medical care, and wholesome food. Political prisoners
also complained of beatings by criminal offenders incited by prison guards.
Local newspapers continued to publish complaints of prisoners concerning harsh
treatment and degrading prison conditions, often in the form of communiques from
the prisoners or their families. In several instances prisoners went on hunger strike
to protest their treatment and prison conditions. In December the nonpartisan Moroccan
Human Rights Organization (OMDH), citing the apparent suicide deaths of
four prisoners in &ptemDer, criticized the "growing deterioration" of Moroccan prison
The detention facility in the military fortress at Tazmamart, notorious for its
harsh treatment of prisoners and the fact that its existence was never acknowledged
by Moroccan authorities, was reportedly destroyed in 1992 afl«r being closed in
1991. Rumors of its renewed use, however, continued to be heard. Three former
Tazmamart prisoners, freed in late December 1991, left Morocco in early January
for France, where they publicly complained of their treatment in Morocco and their
resulting poor health. In mid-January former Tazmamart prisoner Mbarek Touil,
who was released in September 1991, was issued a passport by the Grovemment and
allowed to leave Morocco to rejoin his family in the United States. The last two
former Tazmamart prisoners, Mohamed Raiss and Ghani Achour, were released in
September and November. The Government refused to comment on other prisoners
who died in detention at Tazmamart.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The (Jovemment often ignores legal
guarantees oi procedural due process. Moroccan law requires that a detainee oe
rought before a judge within 48 hours of detention (extendable to 96 hours upon
approval of the prosecutor) and informed of the charges against him. Incommunicado
(garde a vue) detention was shortened to 48 hours, plus a one-time 24-hour
extension if requested by the prosecutor, under the CCDH reforms adopted by Parliament
in April 1991 and promulgated into law by King Hassan on December 30,
1991. Other CCDH recommendations, many stUl not acfopted by the Government,
provide for expanded court and prosecutorial oversight, speeding up initial hearings,
the right of access to an attorney during detention, and autopsy in cases of prisoner
death. According to Moroccan human rights groups, observance of the new requirements
was spotty and particularly poor in rural areas. Human rights groups and
members of the security forces reported that resistance to the new constraints
among some members of the security forces was considerable.
Arrests usually take place in public view, but police sometimes reftise to identify
themselves, and warrants are not always used. Moroccan law requires that a lawyer
be present after the detainee's first appearance in court. Morocco does not have an
extensive system of bail, although defendants are sometimes released on their own
recognizance. The bail system was expanded by ParUament in December 1991 to
give judges greater latitude in granting bail or provisional liberty, but the expansion
aid not apparently result in sm)stantially increased use of bail. Moroccan law does
not provide for habeas corpus or its equivalent. Under a separate Code of Military
Justice, military personnel may be detained without warrants or public trial, but
no such instances were reported in 1992.
Abdessalam Yassine, leader of the banned Islamist oi^anization Justice and Charity,
remained under house arrest at his home in Sale after 2 years' detention Mdthout
trial for smy crime, even though members of his organization, tried and convicted
of membership in a banned organization and distributing leaflets, were released
on expiration of their prison terms in December 1991 and January 1992. His
supporters say tiiat the authorities frequently forbid his contact with members of
his family and friends.
In February there were several credible reports of widespread arbitrary arrests
of Sahrawi (i.e., native Saharan) youths in the Western Sahara. The Government
officially denied the reports, assertingthat all Sahrawi prisoners were freed following
a 1991 pardon by King Hassan. The reports persisted, however, with one suggesting
that some prisoners were transferred to detention centers within Morocco.
Moroccan human rights groups also accused the Government of maintaining secret
detention facilities where detainees were held without judicial process. Two such facilities
identified by the groups were the Ain Atik and El Ank centers in Casablanca.
The Government did not respond to public requests for information on the
alleged centers.
There are no known instances of Moroccans being sentenced to exile. There continue
to be, nonetheless, a number of poUtical activists who remain abroad, mostly
in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, rather than risk arrest on their return to Morocco.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Morocco has a dual legal system: A secular system
based in part on French legal tradition and a parallel Islamic system which adjudicates
family matters and inheritance law for Moroccan Muslims. The secular system
includes courts of original jurisdiction, appellate courts, and a Supreme Court.
Those accused of political and security offenses are tried in the secular courts.
In general, cases are brought before an initial review court—the court of first instance—
which may call for a hearing auickly to bring cases to trial. The detainee
is informed of charges and questioned by a judge who determines if charges have
merit. If the infraction is minor, the judge may release the detainee or impose a
light sentence. If a more extensive investigation is required, the ju(^e may release
detainees on their own recognizance. In cases of alleged political crimes, detainees
are often held for long periods before trial. There are credible reports of detainees
being convicted on the oasis of confessions extracted under duress. The criminal
court system is heavity dependent on confessions, and authorities are apparently
motivated to apply sufficient pressure on the detainee to extract a statement adequate
to assure his conviction.
The Moroccan judicial system is generally considered susceptible to political intervention
and control when a case involves challenges to royal authority or state policy,
and those accused of such crimes often do not enjoy the procedural safeguards
needed to ensure a fair trial. Human rights groups often provide legal counsel for
defendants in such cases. In criminal cases defendants often receive only cursory
hearings, and judges depend on police reports to decide cases. Althoudi the State
provides an attorney at public expense for serious crimes (when the alleged offense
carries a sentence of over 5 years), appointed attorneys often provide inadequate
representation. For lesser crimes, needy defendants usually are not represented by
One case that received unusual attention was the trial of the labor leader, Noubir
Amaoui, who was charged with defamation based on statements he had made to a
Spanish journalist about the corruption of government ministers (see also Section
2.a.). He was found guilty and sentenced in April to 2 years in prison. The trial,
widely seen as politically motivated, was conducted in Rabat under unusually strict
security conditions. Public access was ti^tly restricted, as was the entry of defense
attorneys and journalists, some of whom were roughed up and injured by the security
forces. The OMDH accused the Government of packing the courtroom with police
in civilian clothes and of blocking court access to the press and public. The Gov1059
eminent also invoked press controls (see Section 2.a.) in an efibrt to limit coverage
of the trial. Moroccan legal experts criticized court procedures, the length of the sentence,
and the failure of the prosecutor to send the case to the Court of Appeal in
a timely manner as contravening Moroccan law. Amaoui's case was finally set for
appeal in January 1993. Numerous protests in support of Amaoui were held
throughout the year. In November a demonstration m front of the Sale prison
(where Amaoui was held) was broken up by poUoe with such violence that the
OMDH described the security forces' behavior as "having the character of a punitive
The OMDH issued a list of prisoners in June that contained the names of 102
prisoners "of opinion", 80 prisoners accused of armed conspiracy or attack for political
reasons, and 350 prisoners convicted following demonstrations or strikes. In Au-
Sst the coordinating committee of the Moroccan Human Rights Association
MDH) and the Moroccan League for the Defense of Human Rights (MLDHR) announced
it had a list of 567 "sjmdical or political prisoners" and 60 "disappeared
persons." On August 7, the opposition Istiqlal party daily al Alam published part
of that list, including 137 names of "political prisoners" and 27 "disappeared persons."
Tlie general secretariat of the CCDH, without convening the Cfouncil itself,
issued a statement refiiting the al Alam list and asserting, like the Government,
that there are no political prisoners in Morocco. Because the Government defines
several categories of speech as criminal (see Section 2.a.), it regards most who describe
themselves as political prisoners to be common criminals.
The figures given by Moroccan human rights groups for the number of political
prisoners do not include Sahrawis held in Morocco or the Western Sahara. The best
estimate for the number of Moroccan political prisoners at the end of 1992 was between
160 and 180. A few political prisoners were released fiDm confinement during
the year. In January King Hassan pardoned and released the last three members
of the Hal Amam Oi^anization jailed in tiie 1970's.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Constitution states tliat the home is inviolable and that no search or investigation
may take place without a search warrant issued in compliance with the law. Current
law stipulates that a search warrant must be obtained from a prosecutor on
valid grounds. This stipulation is not always observed, however, and there were continued
reports of illeg^ searches of the homes and offices of suspected political activists.
Selective government surveillance of certain persons and oi^anizations, both foreign
and Moroccan, includes monitoring telephones and opening mail. The university
campuses continued to be under close surveillance. An extensive informant system
exists, especially on the campuses and in the cities.
Section 2. Respect for Civil liberties, Including
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of expression,
but by Moroccan law and tradition there are three forbidden topics: the monarchy,
Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara, and the sanctity of Islam. In an interview
with French journalists in September, the King reiterated that to state that
the Western Sahara is not Moroccan is a crime against state security. Many Moroccans
are carefiil about criticizing government policies for fear of government reprisal.
In November Moroccan authorities arrested Ahmed Belaichi of the AMDH for
affronting the military," based on remarks he made about the military on a local
television show concerning illegal emigration to Europe. At his December trial,
Belaichi was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment and fined. The April trial of labor
leader Noubir Amaoui on defamation charges was widely regarded as a politically
expedient method for jailing Amaoui after he gave an interview in March to a small
opposition weekly in which he suggested political change would come "from the
street" and questioned the utility of the monarchy. In May a provincial labor leader
was sentenced to 5 years in prison without parole for "insulting the person of the
King" during a pubUc discussion between members of different unions. Press sensitivity
about the case was such that newspapers refrained from reporting details
of the actual offense and reported only the section number of the law under which
he was convicted. Tlie severity of the sentence was generally attributed to political
motivations on the part of the Goveroment.
Press freedom is significantly restricted, though the limits are not clearly defined.
Under a 1958 decree the Government controls the licensing of newspapers and journals
through a registration procedure. In practice the requirement of registration is
used, both by central and regional authorities, to prevent the issuance of publications
by organizations or persons considered to be "suspect," for example, those who
advocate the overthrow of the monarchy. Publications that are issued by persons or
organizations that have not complied with the registration procedure or that aredeemed to be a threat to state security may be seized and destroyed. During 1992
the Government forbade the distribution of editions of a number of Moroccan publications.
In May pubhcation of the opposition journal Houriyat al-Mouaten, successor
to the banned al-Mouaten, was suspended. In July the related journal al-Mouatana
was also banned, apparently for its coverage of the Amaoui case. Also in July an
edition of the Islamist journal Arraya was seized by the Government. The opposition
daily al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki complained in September that the Government olodced
the sale of the journal at Moroccan airports in an effort to prevent its distribution
The Government also has the power, under Article 55 of the Press Code, to censor
newspapers directly by ordering them not to report on specific items or events. In
April the Government invoked Article 55, ordering opposition journals to limit their
coverage of the Amaoui trial to official Maghreb Arab Press releases. In an unusual
move, several journals openly defied the order, citing a public duty to publish their
own reporting of the trial. The Government retaliated by bringing charges against
the directors of al Anoual and al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki. Their trials began in May,
after the Amaoui verdict was announced, and the prosecution quickly requested and
was granted indefinite postponements. An unrelated appeal of Monamed el Brini
and Abdelkader Haimer, respectively editor and reporter of Al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki,
who were sentenced in 1990 to 3 months in prison for a "defamatory" article on judicial
corruption, was also heard in May. The case was postponed indefinitely, leaving
the prosecutor the option to raise the case at a later aate. The three postponements
occurred in three different courts on three successive days, all at the prosecution's
request, prompting widespread speculation about the Government's manipulation of
the courts.
The Grovemment does tolerate satirical and often stinging editorials in the opposition
parties' dailies. In addition, press coverage continued to contain reports oi torture
and abuse of authority and prisoners' complaints of harsh treatment and degrading
prison conditions.
None of the news media is entirely independent of government control, which is
exercised through directives from the Ministry of Interior and Information. Media
self-censorship is assisted by the Interior and Information Ministry's practice of offering
"guidance" on certain topics. The Government owns the official press agency,
Maghreb Arab Press, and the Arabic Daily al Anbaa.
Tne Moroccan public has access to a variety of foreign newspapers and magazines,
particularly from Europe and the United States, that reflect a broad spectrum of
opinion. M^ny contain regular and often critical coverage of events in Morocco. The
Government continued in 1992, with reduced frequency compared to previous years,
to ban editions of foreign publications that contained articles about Morocco the authorities
considered particularly offensive. For example, distribution of the February
13 edition of Le Monde was blocked, apparently because it contained an interview
with three former Tazmamart prisoners. The Government also seized the November
and December issues of Le Monde Diplomatique to prevent their distribution in Morocco;
the November issue contained an interview with Moroccan exile Abraham
Serfaty, whUe the December edition included an expose on illegal emigration from
northern Morocco to Spain. Opposition dailies also reported that distribution of various
August and September editions of the French journals Le Monde, Liberation,
Figaro, and Quotidien was banned by the Government because of their coverage of
the Moroccan constitutional referendum. An issue of the London-based, Arabic-language
weekly Al-Wasat was reportedly seized by authorities in December because
it contained an article on Islamic fundamentalism in Morocco.
The Government owns the only television station broadcasting nationwide (the
sole private station, 2-m, can be seen in most urban areas) and one radio station.
Satellite dish antennas, though expensive, are available, permitting free access to
a wide variety of foreign broadcasts. Residents of northern Morocco can also receive
Spanish television with normal antennas. The Government does not impede reception
of foreign broadcasts.
Academic freedom is somewhat limited. There are strictures against scholarly investigation
of the monarchy and Islam, although there continues to be limited research
and publishing on Islam and Islamic fundamentalism.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
This right is significantly restricted.
Although there are constitutional guarantees of assembly and association,
they are limited by three decrees, dating from 1935, 1939, and 1958, which permit
the Government to suppress even peaceful demonstrations and mass gatherings. In
December 1991 and January 1992, local authorities in Casablanca brote up regular
meetings of the OMDH, claiming that the group had not followed established procedure
for obtaining permission to hold a public meeting. In Februaiy the authorities
finally permitted a meeting after the OMDH publicly threatened legal action. The
Government also banned a number of Labor Day demonstrations and meetings on
May 1.
The Government broke up a variety of other peaceful demonstrations, often arresting
and giving prison terms to the participants. In March the authorities arrestea
high school students striking to protest examination procedures in Safi, Fes,
and Ifrane. A peaceftil gathering of35 Islamist University students in Fes in March
resulted in convictions and sentences of up to 1 year in prison. Police arrested 110
members of the baimed Islamist group Justice and Charitv who staged a sit-in in
el Kelaa des Sra^ma in May. Sympatnizers of the group claimed 12 of the protesters
were "kidnaped" and tortured. Twelve of the protesters were sentenced to prison
terms. In May ttrree unemployed university graduates were sentenced to 6 months
in prison and fined for participation in an unapproved march in Rabat.
The right to form organizations is limited. Under a 1958 decree, persons wishing
to create an organization must apply to the Ministry of Interior and wait for approval
before holding meetings. In practice, the Government uses the requirement
to prevent persons considered "suspect" or who advocate replacement of the monarchy
from forming legal organizations. Islamist and leftist groups experienced considerable
difficulty in obtaining official sanction. An Islamist association in Sefrou
called Dar al Quran complained in April that it was arbitrarily prevented by local
authorities from meeting. Interference with the right of association also occurs at
the individual level. In March a member of Justice and Charity was arrested and
tried solelv on the basis of his alleged membership in the organization.
Political parties must be approved by the Ministry of Interior, which uses this
power to control participation in the political process. The Islamist group Reform
and Renewal reportedly was denied status as a political party and chose instead to
seek an electoral alliance with a small, legal political party.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Islam is the official religion of Morocco, 99 percent of Moroccans
are Sunni Muslims, and the King bears the title "Commander of the Faithful."
The Moroccan Jewish community of approximately 7,000 is permitted to practice
its faith, as are Christians. Although the Constitution provides for freedom of
worship, only the practice of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is tolerated in keeping
with Islamic law and tradition. The King has stated that all religions other than
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are heresies. The Baha'i community (150-200 people)
has been forbidden to meet or hold communal activities since 1983. Attempting
to convert a Moroccan to any faith other than Islam is punishable by imprisonment.
According to Islamic law and tradition, conversion of any kind from Islam is strictly
prohibited. Moroccan Jews may convert to Islam, but they are not actively encouragfed
to do so.
Ihe Government monitors Friday mosque sermons and the curriculum of Koranic
schools to ensure that approved doctrines are taught. Fundamentalist Islamic activities
are sometimes subjected to official repression but are largely tolerated so long
as they remain restricted to the propagation of Islam and educational and charitable
activities. Islamist groups that question the King's status as Commander of the
Faithfiil are suppressed.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Although freedom of movement within Morocco is guaranteed by the
Constitution, in practice the security forces set up roadblocks throughout Morocco
and stop traffic at will. Roadblocks, maintained in some regions in the same spot
for years, create what some characterize as internal frontiers. In the Western Sahara,
which is administered by Morocco, movement is restricted in areas regarded
as militarily sensitive.
Freedom to travel outside Morocco is controlled by the Ministry of Interior
through passport issuance and immigration control processes. Though delays are not
uncommon, most Moroccans receive passports within 1 month of application. There
are frequent allegations of corruption in the passport offices; applicants are reportedly
forced to pay gratuities to ootain application forms and to make sure that the
application is not lost in the bureaucratic labjrrinth.
The Grovemment has refused to issue passports to a number of Moroccans, including
political activists, former political prisoners, and Moroccan Baha'is. In February
the OMDH publi^ed a list of 29 former political prisoners, human rights monitors,
lawyers, and others who were denied passports. In December the OMDH said it had
received an additional 29 complaints and that of the total 58, only 9 had received
fiassports during the year. The OMDH said inquiries it made with the Ministry of
nterior about uiose and other cases received no response. The oi^anization described
instances in which the border police seized passports or otherwise blocked
the exit of Moroccans trying to leave the country, usually without explanation. One
applicant stated that officials of the Ministry of Interior told him that, as a precondition
of passport issuance, he would have to sign a statement promising to re1062
port to the Ministry any political or other information he might gather while abroad.
The man refused ana was not issued a passport. In July Casablanca lawyer
Abderrahim Berrada, who had been seeking renewal of his passport since 1977, received
a new passport apparently after a French magazine reporter asked the Laterior
Minister about his case.
Women must have permission from either their fathers or husbands to obtain a
passport. A divorced woman must have her father's permission to obtain a passport
and, if she has custody of children, she must obtain permission from the children's
father before passports can be issued to the children. In a speech in September,
King Hassan announced he would seek to reform the laws governing passports and
travel for women, characterizing the male consent requirement as contrary to Islam
and the Moroccan Constitution.
There were no reports that the Government deported a Moroccan citizen in 1992.
Moroccan law considers any person who acquires Moroccan nationality to be a citizen
for life. Moroccans may not renounce their citizenship, thou^ the King may revoke
it—which he does very rarely. Tens of thousands of Moroccans hold dual nationality
and travel on passports from two countries; while in Morocco they are regarded
as Moroccan citizens. The Government has sometimes reftised to recognize
the right of foreign embassies to act on behalf of dual nationals or even to receive
information concerning their arrest and imprisonment. Dual nationals also complain
of harassment by Moroccan immigration inspectors. The law encourages voluntary
repatriation for Moroccan Jews who have emigrated; Moroccan Jewish emigres, including
those with Israeli citizenship, freely visit Morocco. The law also encourages
the return of Saharans who have opposed Morocco in the Western Sahara conflict.
Returning former members of the Polisario, a group seeking independence for the
Western Sahara, who are deemed to pose no tm^at to security are integrated into
Moroccan Ufe.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Moroccan citizens do not have the right to change their government peacefully.
The King, as Head of State, appoints the Prime Minister, who is Head of Government.
The Parliament has the theoretical authority to effect change in the system
of government, but has never exercised it. Moreover, the Constitution may not be
amended without the King's approval. In 1991 the King expressed his view that democratization
should come slowly to the region. Two-thirds of the members of Parliament
are elected directly by universal adult suffrage, while one-third are elected
indirectly by municipal councils and by business, labor, and agricultural "chambers."
The Ministry of Interior appoints provincial governors, though municipal councils
are elected.
In May the King announced an electoral process designed to culminate in the election
of new municipal councils and a new parliament. The electoral laws were reformed
to create electoral commissions witn power to oversee the process and to
hear complaints of irregularities. The administration of the elections remained, in
spite of opposition party objections, in the hands of the Ministry of Interior. The creation
of new voter rolls—the first step in the process—took place in July and August
amid numerous charges of irregularities, some of which were reviewed and corrected
by the electoral commissions. However, many irregularities, such as government officials
going door to door to require individuals to register, went uncorrected.
The first vote under the new electoral process occurred in September in a referendum
on the King's proposal for a revised Constitution. The new Constitution increases
slightly the powers of the Prime Minister and Parliament but leaves no
question that the King will continue to rule. It also creates a Constitutional Council
to review the constitutionality of laws, as well as an Economic and Social Council,
and devolves certain powers to regional political units. Despite the call of four opposition
parties for nonparticipation in the referendum, official results showed a 97.27
percent participation rate, with 99.96 j>ercent voting for approval. The results are
widely regarded as having been manipulated by the Government.
The balloting process itself was susceptible to abuse in that the voter was required
to cast one colored ballot (yes or no) and retain the other. The retained ballot
thus provided evidence of a yes or no vote, and opposition parties claimed that government
ofiicials, especially in rural areas, demanded to see retained ballots in
order to assure "yes votes. The Parliament, elected in 1984 in a vote challenged
by opposition parties as having been rigged by the Government and extended in a
1990 referendum for 2 years, was dissolved at the end of its term in July. Following
the constitutional referendum in September, municipal and professional organization
elections were held in October and direct parliamentary elections are scheduledI
for April 1993. In the absence of a parliament, King Hassan is, in accordance with
the Constitution, ruling by decree.
The old parliament included representatives of nine political parties, including opposition
parties. The beginning of the new electoral season brought the formation
of a number of new political parties. By the end of the year, 16 parties were officially
recognized by the Government, and another 5 existed unofficially.
Women enjoy the right to vote and to run for office. Some women have been elected
to municipal coun(^, but there were no women in the Parliament that left office
in July, and there are no women on the CCDH. In the October 16 local elections,
despite the King's calls for increased political participation by women, women candidates
did notlare well and played a marginal role.
Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation
ofAlleged Violations ofHuman Rights
There are three officially recognized human rights groups in Morocco: two are affiliated
with opposition poUtical parties, while the third is nonpartisan. The Moroccan
League for the Defense of Human Rights (MLDHR) (Istiqlal party) and the Moroccan
Human Rights Association (Party of the Socialist Avant Garde) have formed
a coordinating committee and generaUy issue joint communiques. The MLDHR
chose, however, to participate in the CCDH, while the association did not. The nonpfirtisan
OMDH also chose to participate in the CCDH.
In general, the Government neither hinders nor cooperates with investigations
conducted by Moroccan human rights groups. An investigation into the 19^0 Fes
and Tangier riots by the OMDH collapsed because of a lack of cooperation from local
officials. A parliamentary commission investigating the riots reportedly fared better
but complained that officials interviewed were concerned mostly with shifting blame
elsewhere. The commission presented its report to the King at the end of December
1991, and at least part of it was formally disclosed to Parliament in April. The report
described the incidents, set the number of dead at 43 (the official toll was 5)
and injured at 360, and made a series of recommendations for reform. By the end
of the year, no significant steps had been taken to act on those recommendations.
The Government does not cooperate with international investigation of violations
of human rights in Morocco. It generally does not respond to inquiries about specific
politic£d prisoners transmittea by diplomatic missions. Requests by nongovernmental
organizations (NGO's) to send investigative teams to Morocco are usually refused.
If adlowed in the country, human rights monitors are generally refiised access
by the Government to people or things they want to see. For example, a group of
Spanish union leaders visited Morocco in July to meet with the jailed labor leader
Noubir Amaoui but was denied access to him.
In 1990, in response to criticism of Morocco's human rights performance, the King
created the CCDH which represents Morocco at certain international human ri^ts
forums such as the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and with
foreign NGO's. The Moroccan Government has regularly participated in international
human rights forums and serves as interim president of the Preparatory
Conunission for the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Geneva.
In February 1991, the CCDH issued a series of recommendations to the King concerning,
inter alia, govenmient contact with international human rights organizations.
Parliament enacted the recommendations into law in April (see also Section
l.d.), and the King promulgated the new laws by decree at the end of 1991. Since
the issuance of its reconmiendations, the CCDH has ceased to meet regularly. In
1992 it focused on sending delegations to the United States and Europe to present
government positions on human rights and on publicizing alleged human rights
abuses at the Polisario-controlled refugee camps at Tindouf In August the CCDH
General Secretariat, acting without convening the Council itself, issued a statement
denouncing the Al Alam list of political prisoners (see Section I.e.) and asserting
that Morocco has no political prisoners. The statement was sharply attacked by
human rights groups and opposition parties and was viewed as an indication of government
control of^the CCDH. The OMDH threatened to withdraw its representative
on the Council if the CCDH continued to appear to be manipulated by the (jovemment.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution affirms the legal equality of all Moroccans, and the Government
does not discriminate based on ethnicity.
Although there is no official discrimination, Moroccan blacks generally occupy the
lower social strata^ though a few hold high government or palace positions. Some
Moroccan descendants of sub-Saharan African slaves suffer various forms of social
discrimination arising out of prejudices on the part of some Arabs and Berbers, the
two major ethnic groups in Morocco.
Under the Criminal Code Moroccan women are accorded the same treatment as
men but not under Moroccan family and estate law, which is based on the Malikite
School of Islamic law. In marriage, for example, a husband may repudiate his wife,
but the wife may not repudiate her husband. The situations under which a woman
may sue for divorce are more limited than for men. Women inherit only half as
much as their male siblings. Well-educated Moroccan women often succeed professionally,
particularly in the areas of law, medicine, education, and government service.
There are, however, few women in the top echelons of their professions, and
there are no women ministers or members of Parliament. Women compose approximately
24 percent of the woric force, with themajority of them in the industrial,
service, and teaching sectors.
Women suffer most from inequality in the rural areas. Rural women perform most
hard physical labor; the rate of literacy is noticeably lower for women than for men;
and girls are much less likely to be sent to school than boys. Women who earn their
secondary school diploma, however, have equal access to university training.
The law and social practices governing violence against women reflect Morocco's
Islamic culture and the importance placed on the honor of the family. The Criminal
Code includes severe punishment for men who are convicted of raping a woman or
girl, and the defendant bears the burden of proving his innocence. Human rights
monitors estimate, however, that many sexual assaults go unreported because ofthe
stigma attached to being a victim. In situations in which the victim is a virgin, families
stiU occasionally opt for the victim to marry the assailant in order to preserve
honor. Otherwise, in those cases where rape is reported (perhaps as few as 1 in 10),
the assailant is prosecuted and imprisoned.
Although a woman who is the victim of wife beating has the right to complain
to the police, as a practical matter she would not generally do so unless she were
prepared to file for divorce and leave her husband's home, "nie law excuses the murder
or injury of a wife who is caught in the act of committing adultery. A woman
would not be excused of committing violence against her husband under the same
The civil law status of Moroccan women is governed by the Moudouwana, or code
of personal status, which is based in part on the Koran. Women's and other political
organizations have called for reform of the Moudouwana. Some Islamists attacked
the move for reform as heretical, and one theologian issued a fatwa, or religious
opinion, in May saying advocacy of Moudouwana reforms should be punished by
death. In a series of speeches in August and September, King Hassan announced
he would consult with women's groups £ind with senior religious authorities to determine
what parts of the Moudouwana could be reformed without contravening its Islamic
underpinnings. Noting that reform would take time, he pledged to change the
family law in a manner consistent with Koranic law to provide women the equal
treatment guaranteed them in the Constitution.
Some Berber spokesmen believe that the Berber identity is not adequately maintained
because Berber languages are not taught in schools and there are no Berber
Eublications (a situation compounded by the lack of a written Berber script). Berers
are well represented in the Government and the officer corps of the militaiy.
Section 6. Worker Rights
      a. The Right ofAssociation.
The Constitution guarantees "the right of association
and the right to join any trade union and political organization." Workers are free
to form and join unions throu^out the country. The right is exercised widely but
not universally. According to the trade union federations, well over a million of Morocco's
9 million workers are unionized; 5 percent of the work force is a more accurate
estimate. Substantial numbers of workers in the public sector are unionized.
Three of the 17 existing trade union federations dominate the labor scene; all are
organizationally independent of the Government. Thev are the Union Marocain de
Travail (UMT), the Confederation Democratique de Travail (CDT), and the Union
Generale des Travailleurs Marocains (UGTM). The UMT has no political affiliation,
the CDT is linked to the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), and the UGTM
to the Istiqlal party. Both the USFP and Istiqlal are currently opposition parties.
Unions are not entirely free of government influence. The internal intelligence
services of the Ministry of the Interior keep the Government fuUy apprised of trade
union activity, and the selection of union ofncers and the carrying out of their duties
is sometimes subject to government pressure.
Workers have the right to strike and do so. Most work stoppages are intended to
advertise grievances and last 24 hours or less. However, strikes can be prolonged
and arise not only from economic demands or working conditions but also from
union rivalries; all three.of these elements were present in a long and inconclusive
strike at Casablanca's bus transpori; authority eariy in the year. The first months
of 1992 also saw a series of 24-hour "sector strikes"—by health workers, teachers,
and transport workers—led by the trade union federations associated with the opposition
political parties. In the second half of 1992, strike activity was limited.
Labor activism was dampened by the intimidating effect of the separate arrests,
trials, and sentencing of Noubir Amaoui and UGTM activist Driss La^nimi.
Unions belong to regional labor organizations and maintain ties with international
trade secretariats.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Constitution acknowledges
the right to strike (Article 14), and includes labor organizations among the
entities that serve to "organize and represent the citizens" (Article 3). An implied
right to organize and bargain collectively is exercised. The multiplicity of trade
union federations creates competition to organize workers. Any group of eight workers
may organize, and it is easy for a worker to change trade union affiliation. Thus
a single factory may contain several independent locals or locals affiliated with more
than one labor federation.
In both the process of organizing and during collective bargaining, labor laws are
observed most often in the corporate and parastatal sectors of the economy, where
ad hoc government mediation and arbitration procedures to promote worker-employer
negotiations are more easily applied. These mediation procedures do not in
practice umit unions' freedom to bargain collectively. The unions' most common
complaint against employers is that they refuse to negotiate seriously.
In the informal and underground economies and in the textile and artisanal
(handicrafts) fields, labor laws and regulations are routinely ignored. Small employers,
especially in the agricultural sector, are often ignorant of labor laws and regulations.
While the protection of the right to organize and bargain collectively exists
in the Constitution and Labor Law, the Government does not always enforce the
protections fiiUy. As a practical matter, in Morocco the unions have no judicial recourse
to oblige the (jovemment to act when it has not met its obligations under
the law. Moreover, political considerations often lead the Government to hinder the
full exercise of worker rights in an effort to control the unions.
Laws protecting collective bargaining are not highly developed. In some parts of
the industrial and parastatal sectors there is a long-established tradition oi collective
bargaining, but this practice is not spreading to emerging sectors of the economy.
The wages of unionized workers are established throurfi practices that include
discussions between employer and worker representatives. However, wages for the
vast majority of workers are set unilaterally by the employer.
In the industrial sector collective bargaimng agreements are often invoked in
legal disputes when a worker claims to have oeen reprimanded or dismissed for
trade umon activity. Employers usually cite work-related reasons for the dismissals.
An employer intending to fire workers without replacing them must apply in advance
to the provincial governor through the labor inspector's office. In cases where
employers plan to replace fired workers, the labor inspector provides replacements
and mediates the cases of workers who protest their dismissal. Anv worker fired for
a serious infraction, such as sabotage, is entitled by law to a court nearing.
Notwithstanding legal safeguards, employers regularly fire workers for trade
union activity that they see as threatening to employer interests. Reinstatement is
sometimes ordered by courts, but legal proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming.
Labor complainants are often vindicated in court proceedings, but court decisions
awarding damages and back pay can be difficult to enforce. Ministry of
Labor inspectors serve as investigators and conciliators in labor disputes; the inspectors
are not very effective, however, because they are few in number, carry
heavy workloads, and do not have the resources to investigate all cases. In addition
to pursuing their complaints through the Ministry of Labor's inspectors, unions increeisingly
are going directly to court with their conaplaints.
Moroccan lator law applies equally to the small Tanrier export zone. The proportion
of unionized workers there is about the same as in Morocco as a whole.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Morocco has ratified both Internationsd
Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions against forced labor. The ILO's
Committee of Experts in its report for 1990 noted, however, that there is no Moroccan
legal or constitutional prohibition against forced or compulsory labor. As far as
is known, forced or compulsory labor is not practiced in Morocco.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Children may not be legally employed
or apprenticed before age 12. Special regulations govern the employment of
children between the ages of 12 and 16. In practice, children are often apprenticed
before age 12, particularly in artisanal work. The argument is made that tney need
to acquire skills, such as weaving or rug-making, before they reach the age of 12.
Safety and health conditions as well as salaries in enterprises employing children
are often substandard. The use of minors is common in the rug-making and tanning
industries. Children are also employed informally as domestics and usually receive
little or no wages. Poverty and a pervasive cultural acceptance of child labor keep
abuse of the cluld labor laws prevalent nationwide. The Ministry of Labor, through
its corps of labor inspectors, is responsible for enforcing child labor regulations.
Child labor laws are generally well observed in the industrialized, unionized sector
of the economy. The inspection mandate of labor inspectors does not, however, include
domestic employees.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The King in May set a new minimum industrial
wage and granted a wage increase to agricultural woriters. Despite food, diesel
fuel, and public transport subsidies, a family cannot maintain a decent standard of
living on the minimum wage of a single worker. In many cases several members,
some of them working in the informal economy, combine their income to support the
family. The minimum wage is not enforced effectively in the informal and artisanal
sectors of the economy. It is enforced fairly effectively throughout the industrialized,
unionized sector of the economy, though unionists complain that employers often,
by means of deductions and other techiniques, pay their workers less than the law
Most workers in the industrial sector of the economy, except for those employed
in garment assembly, earn more than minimum wage. Moreover, workers are customarily
paid between 13 and 16 months' salary for every 12-month year. The informal
sector provides a safety net for those who would otherwise be unemployed or
underemployed. The extensive parallel economy employs directly or indirectly an estimated
50 to 75 percent of the working population, often in part-time jobs. The law
provides a 48-hour maximum workweek, with not more than 10 hours for any single
day, premium pay for overtime, paid public and annual holidays, and minimum conditions
for health and safety, including the prohibition of night work for women and
minors. As with other regulations and laws, these are observed unevenly, if at all,
in the informal sector. Labor inspectors endeavor to monitor woricing conditions, accidents,
and labor disputes, but lack sufficient resources and authority to investigate
many complaints and mandate full compliance with the law.