(Rabat, October 26, 2015) – A draft law before Morocco’s parliament on disability rights conflicts with Morocco’s obligations under an international treaty, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the Moroccan parliament. Moroccan lawmakers should urgently amend the law to ensure the full realization of equal rights for people with disabilities.

Draft law 97.13 on the protection and advancement of persons with disabilities (Draft Framework Law) is currently before parliament, its first piece of legislation addressing the rights of people with disabilities to be up for consideration in Morocco since it ratified the international treaty on disability rights in 2009. 

“People with disabilities in Morocco have been treated as objects of charity rather than as equal citizens, leading to stigma and discrimination,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “This draft law gives the government an opportunity to begin to change this perception and make Morocco a regional leader on disability rights, but it needs to be fully grounded in human rights standards.”

Based on consultations with disability rights organizations, people with disabilities and their families, and Moroccan government officials, Human Rights Watch found that the draft law falls short of guaranteeing the full rights of people with disabilities, including the right to education. As it stands, the Draft Framework Law perpetuates outdated notions about disability and places further limitations on the rights of people with disabilities.

The Moroccan Parliament should ensure that the Draft Framework Law aligns with its obligations under the United Nations disability rights treaty by:

  • Ensuring that the full respect, protection, and fulfillment of the rights of people with disabilities is the primary objective of the law, instead of focusing on preventing and diagnosing disability;
  • Eliminating provisions that would deprive people with disabilities of legal capacity, instead ensuring that they have support to make important life decisions and exercise their rights on an equal basis with others;
  • Ensuring inclusive education for all children with disabilities in mainstream schools in their communities, with reasonable accommodation such as assistance in the classroom or accessible materials, when needed; and
  • Ensuring that people with disabilities are included in drafting, carrying out, and monitoring laws and policies that affect them.
Morocco should take advantage of the opportunity the new legislation provides to ensure that people with disabilities and their representative organizations are included in efforts to amend, implement, and monitor the legislation, and to uphold their international legal obligations. “The draft law currently before parliament fails to live up to the standards that Morocco pledged to uphold when it ratified the treaty,” Goldstein said. “Lawmakers have a chance to rectify this situation by amending the draft law and putting the rights of people with disabilities at the forefront.”