Morocco: fully independent judiciary must be established

Middle East and North Africa
Issue: Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Document Type: Thematic Report
Date: 2013

The ICJ, FIDH and EMHRN call on the Moroccan authorities to comprehensively reform the judiciary and to bring it in line with international standards.

Reforms should be aimed at ending effective executive control over the Higher Judicial Council, reforming the statute of magistrates, ensuring the independence of prosecutors and removing the military court’s jurisdiction over civilians.

The call comes as the ICJ, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) ended a high-level mission to Morocco to assess the current legal framework and its adherence to the principles of judicial independence, impartiality and accountability.

In a memorandum addressed to the Moroccan authorities, the three organizations formulated 20 specific recommendations for reform.

“The Moroccan authorities should amend the law to put an end to the comprehensive control the executive exercises over the career of judges, including their nomination, promotion and disciplinary proceedings against them, and should adopt a new law on the Higher Judicial Council”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.

In addition, the Moroccan Military Code extends the jurisdiction of military tribunals to try civilians, in contravention of international law and standards. It fails to provide full guarantees of fair trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, including the rights to defence and to appeal.

“The Moroccan authorities must end the use of military courts to try civilians and limit the jurisdiction of military tribunals to military offences and personnel only”, said Michel Tubiana, EMHRN president.

The organizations reiterated that the Moroccan authorities should also take immediate measures to end executive control over the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

“The subordination of Moroccan prosecutors to the Minister of Justice has had an adverse impact on the investigation and prosecution of human rights abuses. Moroccan authorities should act to ensure that prosecutors are able to carry out their duties independently, impartially and in defence of human rights”, said Said Benarbia, ICJ senior legal adviser for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) programme.

During the mission, the delegation met with Mr. Mustapha Ramid, Minister of Justice; Mr. Karim Ghallab, President of the Deputies Assembly; Mr. Omar Dkhil, President of the Justice and Legislation Commission of the Counsellors Assembly; Mr. Driss El Yazami, President of the National Council for Human Rights; the Parliamentarian Network against the Death Penalty; and civil society representatives, including human rights organisations. These organizations have persistently called upon the Moroccan authorities to reform the judicial system.

The delegation was composed of Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president; Michel Tubiana, EMHRN president; and Said Benarbia, ICJ senior legal adviser for the MENA programme.


Said Benarbia, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: 41 22 979 38 17, e-mail: said.benarbia(a)


Morocco-Mémorandum sur la réforme du pouvoir judicaire-mission report-2013-ar (full text in pdf)


Translate »