Human Rights of Morocco

Morocco’s human rights record is mixed. It’s human rights record was improving until 2003, then reversed course following that year's terrorist attacks. Citizens can be held for 12 days without charge. Politically-motivated persecutions were common, especially when General Oufkir became responsible for home security.

State security forces are implicated in various abuses. The state's monopoly on media, while officially lifted, remains evident: The satiric Arab-language weekly Nishan was shut down in 2006 for "undermining Islam."

Morocco has made considerable improvements since the repressive Years of Lead under King Hassan II's reign (1961-99), but under his modernizing son, Mohammed VI, there are still complaints about abuses of power.

Censorship and harassment of independent media is pervasive. Reporting on human rights is censored. Domestic violence and discrimination against women is severe, although the king is encouraging more open dialogue on once-taboo subjects.

Many new laws and codes concerning all aspects of life are being or have been passed, most notable of which was the creation of the Mudawana — a family code which represented the first unique initiative of its kind in the Arab and Muslim world. The code gives women more rights.

Other issues such as the abolition of capital punishment and the reform of the Moroccan nationality law are being debated. The Moroccan parliament is due to vote on these issues in spring 2007.

The 2003 Casablanca bombings and the need to fight the terrorist threat have led the government to pass a controversial anti-terrorism law that cracked down on terror suspects.

Moroccan and international organizations continue to criticize the human rights situation in Morocco, mainly the arrests of suspected Islamist extremists during 2004 and 2005 in relation to the 2003 Casablanca bombings, and in Western Sahara.

In mid-February 2007, a study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies called "Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco" concluded that Morocco provides a valuable lesson in political and economic reform, which others in the Arab world can draw on and that the Moroccan model confirms that it is possible to adopt both forms of reform simultaneously.

Last Updated on Monday 4th August 2008