Morocco proposes novell concepts in law: Innocent till proven guilty, and due process principles
Morocco, Judicial, 8/18/1999
The London-based Amnesty International (AI) welcomed positive initiatives taken or planned by the Moroccan Human Rights Advisory Council (CCDH) to reform justice and the penitentiary system.
This came in an addendum to a report on Morocco entitled "Morocco/Western Sahara: Turning the page" that was drafted following responses and remarks made by the Moroccan ministry of human rights and the CCDH after Amnesty International submitted Moroccan authorities a report before its publication which was due last June 22.
It notes that the committee against torture examined last May a report on Morocco and acknowledged improvements in Morocco which took initiatives, mainly an open political will to establish a genuine rule of law in the kingdom and the enforcement of a human rights education and awareness-promotion program for law enforcement officials and students.
The CCDH --set up by the late King Hassan II in 1990 as a national institution in charge of protecting and promoting human rights and consolidating a human rights culture in Morocco-- and the human rights ministry had criticized AI's report as having made only shy mentions of the large variations in human rights issues initiated in Morocco.
Following the criticism, AI decided to include in its report on Morocco recent moves to improve the human rights record, mainly the drafting of a law project that, AI says, will greatly impact on human rights and basic freedoms.
The non-governmental organization, which opened last year a branch in Morocco, also mentions the activities undertaken by the CCDH task group which visited prisons and made a report on detention conditions in Morocco.
Amnesty also says that the CCDH proposed to add to the criminal procedure law a provision stipulating that all suspects be considered innocent as long as charges are not proved by a trial where parties are heard and defense guarantees secured.
Other CCDH initiatives hailed by AI include a recommendation that trials must proceed in reasonable time and without unjustified delays.
Amnesty explained that it has decided to postpone publishing the report pending the study of remarks made by the Moroccan authorities and by the CCDH.
Regarding the issue of missing persons, the organization cites the publishing by the CCDH, in October 1998, of a list of 112 cases of persons reported missing, including 13 living persons, 58 dead ones and 41 who have disappeared in unknown circumstances and the CCDH readiness to examine any other cases.
The CCDH had noted that the AI report which mentions a list of 400 missing persons is not very rigorous because it comprised 107 persons who were freed. Amnesty conceded that Morocco has settled the case of several missing sahrawis in coordination with the UN task force in charge of forced or involuntary disappearances. The task force acknowledged that a total of 130 out of the 242 cases of supposed missing persons had been settled.
The Moroccan authorities had told AI that some of the persons presented as missing are actually leading a normal life in Morocco, others are held as prisoners of war receiving visits by the International Red Cross Committee and others were killed during military operations (1975-1987).
Amnesty also welcomed Morocco's decision to set up a committee to compensate victims and acknowledged "significant improvements" of human rights in the sahara territory (former spanish colonies retrieved by Morocco in 1975), mainly the release in 1991 of thousands of missing persons, the freeing of opinion prisoners in 1996 and the decrease in the number of reported cases of missing persons.
Morocco had published last October a list of 112 missing persons. It said a total of 56 persons have died, 12 others are still alive, enjoying freedom and some of them live abroad. The fate and the identity of 44 others is still unknown.
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