On 21 June 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1818 (2011)
, whereby it granted partner for democracy status
the Parliament of Morocco. The Parliament of Morocco thus became
the first to request and to be granted this status, introduced by
the Assembly in 2009 to develop institutional co-operation with
the parliaments of the Council of Europe’s neighbouring States.
Upon making its official request for this status, the Parliament
of Morocco declared that it shared the same values as those upheld
by the Council of Europe and made a number of political commitments
in accordance with Rule 62.2. of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.
These commitments are set out in paragraph 3 of Resolution 1818 (2011)
3. In addition, the Assembly stated, in paragraph 8 of the aforementioned
resolution, that a number of specific measures were essential to
strengthen democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights
and fundamental freedoms in Morocco.
4. Furthermore, the Assembly stressed that “progress in taking
forward reforms is the prime aim of the partnership for democracy
and should constitute the benchmark for assessing the efficiency
of this partnership”.
5. Accordingly, the Assembly decided to review, two years after
the granting of partner for democracy status to the Parliament of
Morocco, the progress achieved in implementing the political commitments
and reforms considered to be essential.
On 25 June 2013, the Assembly adopted Resolution 1942 (2013)
on the evaluation of the partnership for democracy in
respect of the Parliament of Morocco, on the basis of a report presented
by our former colleague Mr Luca Volontè, and took stock of political
developments in Morocco in the context of the partnership. It further
resolved to continue reviewing the implementation of political reforms
in Morocco, and to make a new assessment within two years.
I was appointed rapporteur on 1 October 2013 with a view to
preparing the second evaluation report as provided for by Resolution 1942 (2013)
on the parliamentary contribution to resolving the Western
Sahara conflict, adopted in June 2014 following a report prepared
by our colleague Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier, states that “the progress
made by Morocco in the field of human rights in Western Sahara and
the implementation of this resolution should henceforth be taken
into account in the next evaluation report on the partnership for democracy
in respect of the Parliament of Morocco, which is due in 2015”.
9. In the framework of the preparation of my report, I carried
our two fact-finding visits to Morocco (in July 2014 and in April
2015). I also had discussions with our Moroccan partners at various
meetings of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and
on the sidelines of plenary sessions of the Assembly. In addition,
I received some information and comments from several human rights
10. I thank the Moroccan partner for democracy delegation, as
well as all the Moroccan officials whom I met, for their useful
contributions. My gratitude also goes to the representatives of
Moroccan civil society and Moroccan and international human rights
organisations who shared with me their views on various aspects
of the situation in Morocco, as well as on the human rights situation
in Western Sahara.
2. General political
11. Following the 2011 parliamentary elections, the internal
political situation in Morocco has been rather stable. However,
the coalition government established on the basis of the results
of 2011 early elections had to be renewed in 2013 when the second-biggest
coalition party Istiqlal (60 seats in the House of Representatives)
decided to leave the government, arguing the lack of concrete results.
12. Prime Minister Abdel-Ilah Benkiran, leader of the main coalition
party Parti de la Justice et du Développement (PJD), invited the
Rassemblement National des Indépendants party (52 seats) to join
the coalition. The new government was sworn in on 10 October 2013.
It now enjoys 209 seats out of 395 in the House of Representatives
(the former government had 217 seats). There are now two women ministers
and three more women hold the positions of delegated ministers.
13. The declared priorities of the government have basically remained
unchanged and include, inter alia, protection
and strengthening of rights and freedoms, good governance and regionalisation.
The coalition has also pledged to complete the adoption of the constitutional
(“organic”) laws and the reform of the judiciary before the termination
of the current legislature.
3. Fact-finding visits
As mentioned above, I went to Morocco twice in my
capacity as rapporteur: in July 2014 and in April 2015. The primary
purpose of my visits was to gather information about the progress
made by Morocco on the path of reforms, and in particular as regards
the implementation of political commitments and Assembly recommendations,
and to encourage our Moroccan partners to speed up reforms. The
two relevant Assembly resolutions, Resolution 1818 (2011)
, were the basis for my discussion with the Moroccan
15. I also sought to better understand the country's regional,
cultural and religious background, which is why I also paid visits
to the provinces (Fez, Tangiers and Ouarzazate).
16. On both occasions, I had very positive discussions with the
Speakers of both Houses of the Parliament, and with representatives
of the majority and of the opposition parties, as well as with the
Moroccan delegation to the Assembly.
17. I also had a chance to meet key ministers (Interior, Justice,
Foreign Affairs, Migration, Solidarity, Women, Family and Social
Development) and to visit several specialised institutions (Economic,
Social and Environmental Council, National Council on Human Rights,
National Commission for Dialogue on Civil Society and New Constitutional
18. As per the Assembly’s usual practice, I also had meetings
with representatives of human rights organisations, as well as with
Ambassadors of Council of Europe member States.
19. I would like to thank the Moroccan partner for democracy delegation
to the Parliamentary Assembly for the excellent organisation of
my visits and for setting up rich and interesting programmes with
high-level meetings, which is a sign of the importance that our
Moroccan colleagues attach to the partnership with the Assembly.
20. The main findings of my first visit may be found in the memorandum
which I presented to the Committee on 5 September 2014 (see document
AS/Pol (2014) 14).
21. During my second visit, I had an opportunity to develop more
in-depth discussions on key issues related to the partnership and
to the reform process, and to raise some additional questions.
22. In particular, the Moroccan interlocutors updated me on the
state of progress as regards legislative work of the parliament.
Mr Rachid Talbi Alami, President of the Chamber of Representatives,
stressed the importance of moving forward on all key reforms, including
in political, social and economic areas. Ten of the 19 organic laws
had already been adopted and several more were under consideration
and should be voted on in the coming months.
23. Representatives of the governing coalition were confident
that all organic laws should be enacted by 2016 as stipulated in
the 2011 Constitution since there was a “principled” agreement on
this with the opposition. In turn, representatives of the opposition
regretted the low speed of work on organic laws and blamed the majority
for artificial delays and lack of political will.
24. With regard to the death penalty, the Speaker of the Chamber
of Representatives referred to the national public debate on this
issue, including in the parliament, but stressed that a consensus
of the whole society was needed on this delicate issue. Representatives
of the majority also stated that the dialogue should continue so as
to avoid the division of society. The opposition felt that, in this
area too, the coalition lacked political will and did not grant
full political support to their attempt to introduce a draft law
on the matter.
25. Another important issue for both the majority and the opposition
was the dialogue with civil society. Representatives of the coalition
stressed their efforts to involve it as much as possible in public
debates on key society issues such as the abolition of death penalty,
regionalisation and abortion, to mention but a few. The opposition
regretted the lack of progress in the implementation of proposals
from civil society and human rights organisations, and referred
to the conclusions of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(Instance équité et reconciliation)
which were still to be put in practice in full.
26. In addition, when assessing the general political climate,
representatives of the opposition complained that the government
did not treat them “in a decent manner”, and claimed that the law
on the opposition was not implemented.
27. The opposition was also critical towards the majority coalition
on the gender equality policy. In their view, the achievements of
the government in this field were fairly meagre and women were kept
away from decision-making positions. While women held 54% of higher
education diplomas, only 6% of secretaries general and 11% of heads
of department in Moroccan administrations were women. The opposition
had hoped for more efforts in the fight against discrimination and
violence against women, and in favour of real equality and participation
of women in political and public life.
28. Both speakers and other members of the parliament praised
the partnership with the Assembly, which Mr Mohamed Cheïkh Biadillah,
President of the Chamber of Councillors, qualified as “a source
of oxygen for the Moroccan democracy”, and were open to learning
from European experience in a number of areas, including migration,
which was a growing issue of concern for Morocco due to the unstable
situation in many neighbouring countries.
29. Mr Mohamed Hassad, Minister of the Interior, assured me that
the State sought to guarantee the freedom of association and of
assembly. He emphasised that there were about 50 public rallies
and protest movements daily in the country and most of them went
smoothly and with no incidents. Although organisers were under obligation
to inform the authorities beforehand, this was a pure formality
and quite often this was done after the event had already taken
place. The law-enforcement agencies only intervened to prevent the blockage
of streets or roads, industrial enterprises and public administrations,
which was forbidden.
30. The Minister underlined the importance of the territorial
reform which was before the parliament. The “strengthened regionalisation”,
aimed at enhancing local and regional democracy while reducing the
number of regions from 16 to 12, was the political priority of the
government. The regions, as well as the other levels of local self-government,
would be given greater autonomy and important budgetary means: about
20% of the State budget, amounting to some 1 billion euros, would
be run by regions. This reform was a challenge to all political
parties which needed to prepare their staff for assuming new responsibilities
at local and regional levels.
31. The Minister also informed me about security challenges linked
to the emergence of the terrorist group known as “IS”. Like many
countries in the Mediterranean, Morocco had to face increasing threats
from this terrorist entity which was much more dangerous than “Al-Qaeda”
since it controlled parts of the territory of Iraq, Syria and now
Libya. Its influence was also strong in Algeria and in Mali. The
Moroccan authorities secured the borders of the country, but some
1 300 Moroccans had joined “IS”, and some 130 of them had returned
to Morocco. The authorities had strengthened the policy of prevention
in order to control the individuals and groups who could commit
terrorist acts. Some 135 terrorist groups had been dismantled in
Morocco since 2003 when anti-terrorist legislation was enacted.
32. Mr Moustafa Ramid, Minister of Justice and Liberties, informed
me about progress as regards the implementation of reforms of the
judiciary. His ministry was in charge of implementing the Charter
of the judiciary system reform which was drafted in 2013 with the
assistance of Council of Europe experts. A broad national dialogue
had preceded the elaboration of the set of reforms.
33. The reform had six strategic aims: the consolidation of the
independence of the judiciary; moralisation of the justice system;
strengthening the judicial protection of rights and freedoms; improving
the effectiveness and efficiency of the judiciary; development of
the institutional capacity of the justice system; modernisation
of the judicial administration and promotion of good governance.
The reform included some 200 implementation mechanisms and more
than 350 procedural measures with concrete deadlines.
34. Key draft laws carrying the reform were to be brought in the
parliament in the summer 2015. The main draft documents, including
the criminal procedure code, were available for consultation and
discussion on the ministry’s website. The National Council on Human
Rights had been asked to provide an opinion on the draft.
35. The Minister further commented on the efforts made by Morocco
to eradicate all cases of torture and ill-treatment in detention,
to fight corruption in the justice system and to protect civil liberties.
On the latter issue, the Minister stressed that guaranteeing the
freedom of the media was among the country’s top priorities. No journalists
were in prison in Morocco because of their work, and no newspapers
had been closed. A new code of the press was under preparation in
order to make official the existing practice in this field.
36. At my request, the Moroccan colleagues organised a meeting
at the Institute Mohamed VI for the training of imams. The institute
was established several years ago in order to provide training for
Moroccan and foreign imams in the spirit of tolerance and respect
for human dignity, and to oppose the radical tendencies in Islam. It
has now become well-known beyond the Moroccan borders, and had received
trainees from many African States and also from Europe.
37. I also had a chance to visit the recently created Central
Office of Criminal Investigations, which has to play the leading
role in the fight against terrorism while respecting human rights
and fundamental freedoms.
38. The meeting at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council,
one of the new institutions created in line with the provisions
of the 2011 Constitution, offered me an opportunity to discuss the
main challenges for the country. One of those was the rate of unemployment.
While the official figure was of 9%, the reality was much grimmer,
and the level of underemployment was estimated at about 40%. One
of the most worrying features was the level of unemployment among
young university graduates and among women. The authorities need
to address this issue as a matter of priority since it could endanger
the stability of Moroccan society.
39. The growing inequality between the rich and the poor was yet
another challenge. The latter felt alienated and left out, economic
reforms and foreign investment didn’t benefit them. The authorities
are expected to introduce fair taxation and recommit themselves
to the fight against corruption and fraud.
40. Another priority for Morocco was the reform of the education
system. Schools needed to be modernised in order to prepare young
people for the challenges of modern life. Human rights education
and the capacity to live together in a mixed and evolving society
were among the new items to be introduced.
41. Members of the National Council on Human Rights – another
institution which was established by the new Constitution – shared
with me their experience of co-operation with the parliament in
drafting legislation. Although such practice existed previously,
it was now based on the Constitution and on concrete agreements with
the houses of parliament. Its aim was to enhance the human rights
approach in the process of drafting new legislation and, more generally,
to promote a human rights culture. About one third of comments and proposals
made by the National Council were taken on board by the parliament.
The Council has branches in 13 regions of Morocco and has developed
active co-operation with some 480 NGOs which are able to take part in,
and contribute to, a number of national debates.
42. One of the priorities of the National Council is the dissemination
of information on international human rights standards, including
on Council of Europe instruments and mechanisms.
43. In Ouarzazate, I had a meaningful discussion with the Governor
of the province, who gathered all the key actors of local power,
the President of the Provincial Council, the Mayor of the town of
Ouarzazate and the heads of local law-enforcement agencies. This
particular visit offered me an opportunity to discuss the challenges
facing Morocco at local level, which are of special importance in
the context of the forthcoming set of reforms of Moroccan regions.
44. The meetings I held in Rabat and in the provinces allowed
me to take stock of the current state of play with regard to political
commitments under the partnership for democracy, to identify a number
of areas which need to be addressed through further reforms, and
to discuss what the Council of Europe can do to meet our partners’
of political commitments
, the Assembly took note that, in their letter requesting
to be granted partner for democracy status, the Speakers of the
two Chambers of the Parliament of Morocco, in line with the requirements
set out in the Rules of Procedure, reaffirmed that “the Parliament
[they] represent shares the same values as the Council of Europe,
namely pluralist and parity-based democracy, the rule of law and respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Furthermore, they committed themselves to:
- “continuing [their] efforts
to raise the awareness of the public authorities and the main players
in politics and civil society of the need to make progress in the
discussion of issues relating to capital punishment and [to continuing]
to encourage the authorities concerned to maintain the de facto moratorium that has been
established on carrying out the death penalty since 1993. [They]
intend to base [their] institutional and legislative work on the
experience of the Assembly and of the European Commission for Democracy through
Law (Venice Commission), bearing in mind that Morocco has been a
member of the Venice Commission since 2007”;
- “continuing their efforts to raise the awareness of the
public authorities and politicians so that favourable conditions
can be established for the holding of free, fair and transparent
- “encouraging the balanced participation of women and men
in public life and politics”;
- “encouraging the authorities concerned to accede to relevant
Council of Europe conventions and partial agreements that can be
signed and ratified by non-member states, in particular those dealing
with human rights, the rule of law and democracy”;
- “inform[ing] [the] Assembly regularly on progress made
in implementing Council of Europe principles in [their] country”.
47. On the basis of my discussions with the Moroccan colleagues,
as well as taking into account the input from human rights organisations
and independent observers, I am in a position to provide the following comments
on the implementation, by the Moroccan authorities, of these political
4.1. Abolition of the
48. Although the de facto moratorium
on executions has been in place since 1993, the death penalty remains
on the books and the courts in Morocco continue to pass death penalty
sentences. According to Amnesty International, 10 death sentences
were pronounced in 2013, 9 in 2014 and at least 3 since the beginning
of 2015. There are 120 individuals condemned to death.
49. In the framework of the judicial reform, the draft new criminal
code should maintain the death penalty for 11 crimes (currently
31). It would seem that the current government doesn’t have the
political will to abolish capital punishment and implement the provisions
of Article 20 of the Constitution which stipulates “the respect of
the right to life”.
50. During the world forum on human rights in November 2014, the
King made an appeal to launch a national debate on the death penalty.
However, we are informed that this debate, which is led by some
NGOs and the National Council on Human Rights, remains limited to
certain elites and hasn’t really reached the whole of society. At
the same time, there is also a campaign against abolition which
is supported by some politicised media and Islamic circles.
51. There exists a network of Moroccan parliamentarians against
the death penalty (Réseau des parlementaires
contre la peine de mort) which gathers about 240 MPs
from both chambers and from various political groups. However, some
members of this network were among those who voted in favour of
a new code of military justice which maintains the death penalty
in some circumstances.
52. A draft law on the abolition of death penalty has reportedly
been tabled at the General Secretariat of the government by several
political parties, both from the coalition and the opposition. The de facto moratorium has yet to be
53. The next parliamentary elections should be held in
Morocco in autumn 2016. However, already in 2015 Morocco should
hold a whole range of elections, from local to regional level, and
indirect elections to the Chamber of Councillors.
54. I hope that the forthcoming elections will be a step forward
on the way to democracy. There is, however, some scepticism in parts
of Moroccan civil society which claim that the general political
climate in the country, characterised by corruption, impunity, political
and administrative monopolisation of the media and social exclusion,
is not propitious for genuinely impartial and transparent elections.
The parliament is reportedly working on the upgrading of the
existing electoral framework. I should recall that, in Resolution 1942 (2013)
, the Assembly had already called on the Moroccan authorities
to carry out an in-depth analysis of the organisation of the 2011
early elections, taking into account the need to address the reported
irregularities, with a view to improving electoral legislation and,
more generally, the electoral process as a whole before the next
56. Moreover, the National Council on Human Rights has prepared
a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at making elections
more inclusive and moving them closer to the citizens. These recommendations
put forward a series of measures to broaden the electoral corps,
to rebalance the constituencies, to strengthen the participation
and the chances to be elected for women and young people, and to
create an appropriate framework for neutral and independent monitoring
of elections. I strongly encourage our Moroccan partners to carefully
consider these recommendations.
57. The forthcoming elections at all levels, including the 2016
parliamentary elections, should serve as important tests of popular
support to reforms and consolidate democratic legitimacy of representative institutions.
As in 2011, the Assembly should be ready to participate in the observation
of parliamentary elections.
4.3. Balanced participation
of women and men in public life and politics
58. In paragraph 27 above, I already referred to critical
remarks on gender-related issues expressed by representatives of
the parliamentary opposition. A number of civil society and human
rights organisations and independent analysts share this criticism.
For them, the government policy in the field of gender equality
and the fight against discrimination lacks consistency and has not
brought about any significant results.
59. From the institutional point of view, the 2011 Moroccan Constitution
provides for the establishment of a specific authority for parity
and non-discrimination. A draft law establishing the Authority for
Gender Equality and the Fight against all Forms of Discrimination
(APALD) has been prepared in co-operation with the Council of Europe
and made available for consultation and comments on the website
of the government. It should be presented to the parliament in the
60. During my meeting with the National Council on Human Rights,
I was handed a preliminary memorandum with a critical assessment
of this draft law performed by the lawyers of the Council. I call
on our Moroccan colleagues to carefully study the comments of the
National Council and make sure that the newly established institution
is capable of providing effective protection against discrimination
as stipulated in the Constitution.
61. I also urge the Moroccan Parliament to step up efforts in
the fight against discrimination and violence against women, and
in favour of real equality and participation of women in political
and public life.
62. I look forward to more detailed comments from the rapporteur
for opinion of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.
4.4. Accession to Council
of Europe conventions and partial agreements
63. Since the previous review of the partnership in 2013,
Morocco has broadened its participation in the Council of Europe’s
legal instruments. It is now party to nine conventions and to seven
64. In addition, the parliament reportedly terminated national
ratification procedures with regard to several more conventions,
including those related to the protection of children’s rights,
and Morocco is expected to join these instruments in the near future.
65. Furthermore, Morocco has been invited to accede to, or to
sign, 14 more Council of Europe conventions.
66. We must welcome these efforts by the Moroccan authorities,
which contribute to the creation of a common legal area between
Europe and Morocco, and encourage our partners, in particular in
the parliament, to continue on this path.
In this context, I wish to reiterate the call made in Resolution 1942 (2013)
for the Moroccan authorities to consider accession to
the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126), bearing in mind,
in particular, that Morocco recently joined the Optional Protocol
to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
68. I also call on our Moroccan partners to consider accession
to the Council of Europe Conventions on Action against Trafficking
in Human Beings (CETS No. 197) and on Preventing and Combating Violence against
Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210).
4.5. Informing the Assembly
on progress made in implementing Council of Europe principles
69. Chapter 6 of this report contains information on
multi-form dialogue between the Assembly and the Parliament of Morocco,
which provides opportunities for the Moroccan partners to keep our
members regularly informed on the political developments in their
country in the light of the values upheld by the Council of Europe, including
on the implementation of the programme of reforms.
70. Throughout my fact-finding visits and contacts with high-level
Moroccan officials, as well as with members of the Moroccan parliamentary
delegation to the Assembly, I witnessed a sincere and genuine commitment
to the fundamental principles of democracy, respect for human rights
and fundamental principles and the rule of law, and the firm intention
to use the partnership with the Assembly to consolidate democratic governance
71. I am confident that the partnership has been a timely and
appropriate offer to respond to the demand for more democracy, both
among the political elites and Moroccan society at large. The partnership
has already played a significant role in shaping the reform agenda.
72. As the pace of reforms seems to have slowed down, political
commitments of the parliament in the framework of the partnership
should serve as a mobilising factor to keep the reform process ongoing
and make sure that it is consistent with fundamental human rights
and democratic values.
We expect more efforts on the part of our Moroccan colleagues
on the abolition of the death penalty and on ensuring parity between
women and men. Other issues raised in Assembly Resolution 1818 (2011)
should remain at the top of the political agenda. Legislative
work needs to be intensified in order to fully and effectively implement
the provisions of the 2011 Constitution.
74. Furthermore, I wish to reiterate, as I did throughout my meetings,
a call on the parliament to step up efforts in addressing concerns
reported by Moroccan and international human rights organisations,
in line with its general commitment to the core values of rule of
law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
75. I count on the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights to provide additional information and proposals with
regard to the human rights situation in Morocco.
5. Western Sahara
As mentioned in paragraph 8 above, Assembly Resolution 2004 (2014)
stated that “the progress made by Morocco in the field
of human rights in Western Sahara and the implementation of that
resolution should henceforth be taken into account in the next evaluation
report on the partnership for democracy in respect of the Parliament
77. The Western Sahara problem has several aspects, the most delicate
of them being the international legal status of this territory.
78. On the one hand, the international community does not recognise
the sovereignty of Morocco over the Western Sahara, which is listed
by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory under de facto Moroccan administration.
79. On the other hand, Morocco considers the Western Sahara as
an integral part of its territory and statehood. It is referred
to as “Southern Provinces”. Questioning this view amounts to undermining
the national unity and territorial integrity of Morocco.
80. This fundamental disagreement will remain as long as there
is no international legally binding solution acceptable to all parties
involved in the framework of the process dealt with by the United
Nations. I believe that neither the Assembly nor the Council of
Europe as a whole should become involved in it unless requested to
contribute to it by the United Nations.
I therefore see no reason for the Assembly to interfere with
the UN-led efforts aimed at finding an agreement on the status of
Western Sahara. Certainly, we must continue to encourage our Moroccan parliamentary
partners to play a more active role in the search for a negotiated
solution, as stated in Resolution 1818
, but I am convinced that the issue of the status of
Western Sahara should not be considered as being directly linked
to the partnership.
At the same time, the issue of human rights in the context
of the Western Sahara problem is fully within the remit of the Assembly.
It is actually the only issue that Resolution 2004 (2014)
asked the Assembly to follow up. More specifically,
this resolution expressed concern about alleged human rights violations
in Western Sahara, in particular in terms of freedom of expression,
assembly and association, as well as allegations of torture, inhuman
or degrading treatment and violations of the right to a fair trial.
These concerns are echoed by reports of various UN mechanisms and
independent human rights organisations.
83. In particular, on the occasion of her visit to Morocco in
May 2014, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi
Pillay, raised human rights concerns, including in Western Sahara,
and encouraged the Moroccan authorities to ensure that human rights
and fundamental freedoms were equally protected in Morocco and Western
84. She referred, inter alia,
to reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who visited
Morocco and Western Sahara in 2012, and by the Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention, which visited in December 2013. Both UN delegations
expressed concern over the use of torture and ill-treatment as well
as the admissibility in court of confessions obtained under torture
or other ill-treatment. The UN Committee against Torture also addressed
similar serious concerns to the government of Morocco.
85. Ms Pillay also quoted complaints from civil society organisations
that the law on registration was not consistently applied, particularly
in Western Sahara, where administrative delays and other tactics
were reportedly used to obstruct registration for some organisations.
Subsequently, two Saharan human rights organisations, “Association
sahraouie des victims des violations graves des droits de l’homme”
and “Association el Ghad pour les droits de l’homme”, were reportedly
86. The report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation concerning
Western Sahara, issued on 10 April 2015 quotes some human rights
organisations’ claims that the Moroccan authorities did not permit demonstrations
in Western Sahara, notably preventing calls for self-determination.
Such gatherings continued to be forcibly dispersed, and there were
allegations that Moroccan law-enforcement officials used excessive force,
including towards women and children, in suppressing demonstrations.
In some cases, protesters and activists were reportedly subjected
to arbitrary arrest, torture, ill-treatment and prosecution.
87. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raised
the issue of the continued detention of the 21 Saharans belonging
to the Gdeim Izik camp group following a decision of a military
tribunal in 2013.
88. On the positive side, the parliament recently adopted the
new Code on Military Justice which excludes civilians from the jurisdiction
of military tribunals. Under the new law, ongoing cases concerning
civilians in military tribunals must be transferred to ordinary
There are many credible reports by respected human rights
organisations, both local and international, which provide documented
evidence on continuing human rights violations in Western Sahara.
The Moroccan Parliament should do its utmost to investigate such
reports, ensure that the authors of alleged violations are held
to account, and take necessary action to prevent further violations.
Assembly Resolution 2004
contains practical proposals for this.
6. Parliamentary dialogue
As my predecessor, Mr Volontè, mentioned in his 2013
report, representatives of the Parliament of Morocco have been regularly
invited to attend the Assembly sessions since the adoption of Resolution 1598 (2008)
on strengthening co-operation with the Maghreb countries,
and took part in the meetings of the Committee on Political Affairs
and Democracy during the examination of the Moroccan Parliament’s
request for partner for democracy status.
91. Once the status was granted, members of the Moroccan partner
for democracy delegation became fully integrated in the work of
the Assembly and its committees. They regularly contribute to the
debates in the Chamber, even though their position at the bottom
of the speakers’ list may prevent them from doing so.
92. In the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, one specific
report was, for obvious reasons, of particular interest for our
Moroccan partners – Ms Maury Pasquier’s report on the parliamentary
contribution to solving the Western Sahara conflict. Although the
discussions were, at times, rather heated, the draft resolution was
a result of compromise and presented a good example of real parliamentary
93. Moroccan representatives also actively contributed to many
other items discussed in the committee, be it in relation to various
regional topics of direct interest to Morocco or on general policy
issues. In my view, these contributions make our debates richer
and are fully in line with one of the main goals of the partnership,
namely involving representatives of parliaments of neighbouring
countries in all-European political debate.
94. Our Moroccan partners have also participated in conferences
and other events organised by the Assembly. For example, the Speakers
of the both Chambers of the Parliament attended the Regional Conference
“The political changes in the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle
East: the role of representative institutions”, which our committee
organised in Lisbon in November 2013 in co-operation with the Venice
Commission and the European Centre for Global Interdependence and
Solidarity (North-South Centre).
95. On this and on several other occasions, members of the Moroccan
delegation actively interacted with colleagues from other parliaments
of Arab countries which participated in the meetings of the committee,
and shared with them the experience of partnership with the Assembly,
thus contributing to a better awareness of advantages offered by,
and responsibilities linked with, partner for democracy status.
96. Another positive aspect worth mentioning is the emergence
of the “horizontal” relationship among partner for democracy delegations
and candidates for this status. The Moroccan members actively participated in
discussions on requests for the status from the parliaments of Kyrgyzstan
97. In addition, as in the previous evaluation period, the Assembly
prepared a number of activities on some specific themes destined
for the members and the staff of the Parliament of Morocco in the
framework of the joint Council of Europe–European Union Joint Programme
on strengthening democratic reforms in the southern neighbourhood.
98. In June 2014, the Assembly organised in Rabat, in co-operation
with the Venice Commission, a parliamentary seminar on the role
of the opposition. Another parliamentary seminar on “The new migration policy
of Morocco and the European experience: new challenges in integration
policies and practices” was organised in Rabat in October 2014.
99. Further parliamentary seminars are planned on issues which
are now being discussed between the Moroccan Parliament and the
Assembly. I hope that these activities will receive due attention
from Moroccan parliamentarians, and I encourage the parliament to
make use more broadly of this opportunity and to involve more of
its members in joint activities.
100. The Assembly has also continued to organise seminars for the
staff of the Moroccan Parliament. In December 2014, a group of members
of the staff of the relevant committees of the parliament participated
in a training session on Council of Europe activities in Strasbourg.
101. Recently, the Secretariat of the House of Representatives
of Morocco expressed interest in receiving training and assistance
for the staff in two particular areas: developing an e-parliament
and upgrading skills in drafting legislation and assessing government
bills. I am confident that the Assembly will be able to provide
the assistance sought.
102. I can but welcome the active involvement of the Moroccan partners
in the parliamentary activities within our Assembly and I encourage
them to further strengthen this relationship.
, the Assembly expressed hope that “granting partner
for democracy status to the Parliament of Morocco would contribute
to intensifying co-operation between this country and the Council of
Europe and promoting Morocco’s accession to Council of Europe conventions”.
It furthermore encouraged the Secretary General of the Council of
Europe, in co-ordination with the European Union, “to mobilise the Organisation’s
expertise, including that of the Venice Commission, with a view
to contributing to the full implementation of democratic reforms
in Morocco, in particular in the framework of the forthcoming constitutional
104. As already mentioned in the 2013 report of my predecessor,
Mr Volontè, this proposal was acted upon. In the context of Secretary
General Thorbjørn Jagland's initiative for the Council of Europe's
policy towards its immediate neighbourhood, a series of action plans
were drawn up to give form to structured co-operation with neighbouring
countries, including Morocco.
105. In April 2012, the Council of Europe and the Moroccan authorities
agreed on an action plan “Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities
for Morocco 2012-2014”, which contained a number of bilateral programmes
intended to assist the process of democratic transition in the country
and help tackle challenges relating to human rights, the rule of
law and democracy.
welcomed this action plan and called on all the actors
involved, namely the Council of Europe, the European Union and the
Moroccan authorities, to consider the extension of the joint activities
under Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities for Morocco 2012-2014
beyond the three-year period and to expand the scope of these activities.
107. The final report on the “Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities
for Morocco 2012-2014” concluded that co-operation with Moroccan
authorities had been marked by dialogue, good mutual understanding
and effectiveness in the implementation of many projects, making
it possible to achieve tangible results in most of the fields. Morocco
has acceded to several Council of Europe conventions and consolidated
its commitment to being part of a common legal area with Europe.
108. Morocco’s constitutional reform process was supported by the
Council of Europe’s contribution to the drafting of organic laws
and other legislation and to the setting up of governance bodies
provided for by the 2011 Constitution. The Council of Europe support
was also focused on reforms in the fields of justice, the fight against
corruption and money laundering, as well as on promoting democratic
values and bringing the country closer to the relevant Council of
109. Further to the successful implementation of the “Neighbourhood
Co-operation Priorities for Morocco 2012-2014”, the Committee of
Ministers agreed to step up relations with Morocco through a Neighbourhood Partnership
which included an enhanced political dialogue and a new co-operation
programme covering 2015-2017.
110. This new phase in bilateral relations with Morocco is a response
to a continued interest of Moroccan authorities to benefit from
Council of Europe experience in the process of reforms.
111. It has been made possible thanks to the extension of the European
Union/Council of Europe Joint Programme “Towards strengthened democratic
governance in the Southern Mediterranean” (South Programme II) for
the years 2015-2017, whose budget increased from 4.8 to 7 million
euros. However, voluntary contributions from member States, which
covered a significant number of activities during the implementation
of the previous programme, are also welcome.
The “Neighbourhood Partnership with Morocco 2015-2017” was
endorsed by the Committee of Ministers on 4 February 2015, and officially
launched on 10 April 2015. The main objectives of this new co-operation programme
- consolidate the results
of the co-operation implemented since 2012 through the “Neighbourhood
Co-operation Priorities for Morocco 2012-2014” and to initiate new
areas of co-operation into line with national reform priorities,
based on the demand-driven approach, in the fields of expertise
of the Council of Europe;
- continue the efforts made to facilitate the creation of
a common legal area between Europe and Morocco, encouraging the
authorities to bring Moroccan legislation in line with European
and international standards and to ratify the Council of Europe
conventions open to non-member States, with due regard for the procedures
set out in the relevant conventions;
- provide support to the development and effective implementation
of new legislation in accordance with European and other international
standards according to needs;
- provide support to the setting up and functioning of human
rights institutions and new governance structures;
- enhance Morocco’s presence in the Council of Europe structures
of which it is already a member or observer (Venice Commission,
the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, the European Pharmacopoeia,
the Pompidou Group’s MedNet network) and to encourage it to participate
in other Council of Europe structures.
113. As was already the case with “Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities
for Morocco 2012-2014”, the programmes set out in the new co-operation
plan are based on a “demand-driven” and targeted approach, and have
resulted from high-level consultations as well as of detailed technical
consultations between the Council of Europe and the relevant Moroccan
114. Therefore, “Neighbourhood Partnership with Morocco 2015-2017”
is based on a clear political will of the Moroccan authorities,
and reflects both the needs and expectations of the Moroccan side,
and the offer that the Council of Europe can bring in the fields
of its core competences, namely respect for human rights, rule of law
As regards human rights, the “Neighbourhood Partnership with
Morocco 2015-2017” has the following overall objectives:
- to promote women’s rights and
participation in public and political life, particularly in decision-making spheres;
- to combat violence against women by adapting the legislative
framework, enhancing awareness of European standards in this field,
and improving prevention;
- to strengthen children’s rights and protection against
all forms of violence by adapting the legislative framework and
enhancing awareness of European standards;
- to enhance national capacities for preventing and combating
torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in accordance
with European standards;
- to enhance national capacities to combat trafficking in
human beings in accordance with relevant European standards;
- to assist Morocco in implementing a human rights-based
- to enhance national capacities in the data protection
- to improve the quality of the implementation of coherent
drug policies in Morocco, with due regard for human rights and from
a public health perspective;
- to support the implementation by Morocco of the Convention
on the Counterfeiting of Medical Products and Similar Crimes Involving
Threats to Public Health (CETS No. 211, “MEDICRIME Convention”).
Concerning the rule of law, the main emphasis is on accompanying
the justice system reform aimed at strengthening its independence
and efficiency, and on supporting constitutional reform and legislative
work. The programme puts forward the following objectives:
- to enhance the independence,
efficiency and quality of justice by improving court performance
and supporting the implementation of judicial reform and revision
of the legal framework, on the basis of European standards;
- to further develop the rule of law by developing a stable
and democratic legal framework and practices, with due account for
- to strengthen non-legal protection in the field of human
rights through mediation;
- to promote Morocco’s accession to the Council of Europe
conventions open to non-member States and provide assistance for
the effective implementation of those instruments;
- to consolidate the freedom of expression and media independence
and plurality through enhanced press freedom;
- to promote convergence of Moroccan regulations in the
audiovisual sector with the Council of Europe instruments;
- to promote good governance and the prevention of corruption
and money-laundering with due account for the relevant Council of
Europe standards, mechanisms and instruments by enhancing the policy framework,
operational capacities and the co-ordination of the relevant stakeholders;
- to step up the co-ordinated fight against illegal activities
in cyberspace, such as online fraud, counterfeiting, unauthorised
access, child pornography and harassment.
117. When it comes to consolidating democracy, co-operation between
the Assembly and the Moroccan Parliament in the framework of partner
for democracy status plays a key role. As previously, the Assembly
is called upon to help strengthen the role and capacities of both
chambers of the Moroccan Parliament on the basis of the jointly
identified priorities, including by means of exchanges of experience
and relevant practices with representatives of the parliaments of
Council of Europe member States, as well as enhancing the competences
of the staff of the parliament.
Other priorities for the democracy pillar are:
- to assist the local and regional
reform currently taking place and help strengthen local and regional democracy
and associations of local and regional authorities;
- to strengthen the role of civil society in the preparation,
implementation and evaluation of the decisions and projects of elected
institutions and the public authorities and in raising public awareness
of the importance of citizen participation in the democratic transition;
- to enable target audiences, such as young professionals
and youth organisations, to further develop and/or acquire knowledge
in the field of human rights, the rule of law and good governance.
I believe that the new “Neighbourhood Partnership with Morocco
2015-2017” is a further positive step in the strengthening of relations
between the Council of Europe and Morocco. Enhanced intergovernmental
co-operation is one of the outcomes of the Assembly’s partnership
with the parliament of Morocco, and also a contribution to the fulfilment
of its goals. It covers many areas identified in Assembly Resolution 1818 (2011)
and in the present report, and thus offers practical
assistance to Morocco in consolidating its democratic transformation.
120. When agreeing to grant partner for democracy status
to the Parliament of Morocco, the Assembly stressed that progress
in taking forward reforms was the prime aim of the partnership and
should constitute the benchmark for assessing its efficiency.
121. After a remarkable start in 2011-2012, the pace of reforms
in Morocco may seem to have slowed down, and some key legislation,
including organic laws, is still in the process of elaboration.
At the same time, the parliament has accomplished important legislative
work and some new institutions have been established. Moreover,
representatives of the governing majority are confident that the
remaining organic laws and some other essential reforms will be
passed before the completion of the current legislature.
122. The role of democratic institutions, including the parliament
and political parties, has further increased. The future regionalisation
should give a new impetus to democratic governance and offer the
Moroccans more opportunities with which to democratically express
123. The forthcoming elections at all levels, including the 2016
parliamentary elections, should serve as important tests of popular
support for reforms and consolidate democratic legitimacy of representative institutions.
As in 2011, the Assembly should be ready to participate in the observation
of parliamentary elections.
124. However, the institutional and legal framework of democracy
still needs to be completed and, even more important, it must bring
about practical results. The quality of legislation and its effective
implementation should increasingly be in the focus of political
actors and institutions, including the parliament.
125. While Morocco has made important progress in the field of
the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, there are
still serious and substantiated concerns in this regard reported
both by authoritative international organisations and independent
human rights activists. The Moroccan authorities must remain vigilant
and attentive to these critical reports and do their best to address
reported shortcomings in accordance with their international obligations
and in the spirit of the values upheld by the Council of Europe.
Following the granting of partner for democracy status to
the Moroccan Parliament, the Council of Europe and the Government
of Morocco drew up an important co-operation programme, intended
to make a tangible contribution to the reform process and to give
our partnership practical meaning by addressing some specific issues
raised in Resolution
127. As the first phase of this co-operation carried out in 2012-2014
has now been completed, the parties agreed on a new action plan
entitled “Neighbourhood Partnership with Morocco 2015-2017” which
is meant to consolidate the results achieved under the first programme.
128. Thus the partnership initiated by the Assembly and the Parliament
of Morocco triggered an enhanced co-operation between the Council
of Europe and Morocco, and contributed to achieving its main objective.
129. The members of the Moroccan partner for democracy delegation
have actively participated in the work of the Assembly and of its
committees, and have become more integrated in the European parliamentary dialogue.
130. By and large, the members of the Moroccan partner for democracy
delegation have acted in the spirit of the political commitments
entered into under the partnership. They are encouraged to step
up their efforts in order to speed up the implementation of the
process of reform, and to address remaining concerns with regard to
the rule of law and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
131. The Assembly should continue to review the implementation
of political reforms in Morocco, to assess the efficiency of its
partnership with, and to offer its assistance to the Moroccan Parliament.