Morocco: remove obstacles to access to the Constitutional Court – new ICJ memo

Feb 20, 2018 | News

In a memo published today, the ICJ called on the Moroccan authorities to refrain from signing into Law Draft Organic Law No. 86.15 on access to the Constitutional Court with a view to amending it and ensuring its full compliance with international standards.  

On 8 August 2017, the House of Representatives approved the Draft Law.

The Second Chamber of the Parliament, the House of Counselors, approved the Draft Law on 16 January 2018.

Before its promulgation, the Draft Law is due to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court to assess its compliance with the Constitution.

“The Draft Law is a missed opportunity to facilitate individuals’ access to the Constitutional Court and to remedy Morocco’s history of inadequate procedures of constitutional review,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.

“By providing for a two-layered admissibility system that includes vague and subjective criteria, and by omitting to extend free and competent legal assistance to those unable to pay when challenging the constitutionality of laws, the Draft Law puts undue burden on the litigants and curtails their access to the Court,” he added.

Under the Draft Law, a request to challenge the constitutionality of a law can only be introduced in the context of a litigation.

Lower courts are to refer the request to the Cassation Court after reviewing it and confirming that the formal and legal requirements set out in the Draft Law are met.

The Cassation Court shall then assess the challenge and refer it to the Constitutional Court if deemed “serious.”

The ICJ is concerned that this proposed procedure increases the likelihood that some laws and provisions may never be subjected to constitutional review, and that litigants may be blocked in their efforts to ensure the review of the constitutionality of the laws.

Moroccan authorities should provide for lower courts to immediately refer constitutionality challenges to the Constitutional Court, as well for other avenues of access, including for individuals and NGOs to be enabled to join proceedings as interested parties or to submit information as amicus curiae or through expert opinions, the ICJ says.

Under international law, anyone who alleges they have been the victim of a human rights violation has the right to access to an effective remedy, including a judicial remedy.

In Morocco, ensuring that alleged victims have access to constitutional review is of key importance to fulfilling this right within the national legal system.

Morocco-Access Const Ct-News-web story-2018-ARA (full story in Arabic, PDF)

Morocco-Access Const Ct-Advocacy-Position paper-2018-ENG (Memo in English, PDF)

Morocco-Access Const Ct-Advocacy-Position paper-2018-ARA (Memo in Arabic, PDF)

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