Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination : Morocco. 03/04/1994.
A/49/18,paras.209-231. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION


CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION

Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Morocco

209. The ninth, tenth and eleventh reports of Morocco, submitted in one document (CERD/C/225/Add.1), were considered by the Committee at its 1020th and 1021st meetings, on 4 March 1994 (see CERD/C/SR.1020 and 1021).

210. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party who pointed out that his country had presented a core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.23) comprising information concerning the territory and the population of Morocco and the legal framework and national organizations protecting human rights. He emphasized the recent ratification by Morocco of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Since the last dialogue between the Committee and Morocco in 1988, a number of decisions and measures reinforcing the protection of human rights had been taken.

211. Members of the Committee thanked the Moroccan delegation for its written report and core document and for its oral introduction. They noted with satisfaction that the report contained responses to questions raised during the examination of the eighth periodic report of Morocco, although it also contained many matters already dealt with in the previous report and a number of points needing further explanation.

212. It was noted that the Moroccan Constitution established the equality of all citizens before the law and the rights of foreigners in Morocco, that Morocco had recently set up an advisory council for human rights composed of representatives of all parties concerned, and that bilateral and multilateral conventions ratified in the manner prescribed by the Constitution were incorporated in domestic law and their provisions could be invoked before Moroccan courts.

213. With regard to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know what were the legislative rules ensuring the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. They emphasized the fact that the Moroccan nation was historically and constitutionally a single indivisible whole, but they wondered why censuses and studies carried out by the authorities employed only socio-economic and not racial, ethnic or linguistic criteria, which would give a more complete idea of the composition of the population.

214. With respect to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee expressed doubts as to the conformity with article 4 of the Convention of the claim that there was no need to adopt specific measures of a legislative, administrative or judicial nature to prohibit any act or encouragement of racial discrimination; they requested further information on the legislation and regulations existing to "put a stop to any racist movements that might emerge or to punish any act of racial discrimination". The Committee noted that the criminal law penalized the spreading of ideas of racial superiority or hatred, and provided penalties for those who showed any desire to assist, encourage or finance such activities, but it was not said if any case of this kind had occurred, and what the penalties imposed were. It was asked whether the statement made in paragraph 27 of the report meant that associations or political parties with ethnic objectives were forbidden. Further information was sought on the incidence of discrimination against Blacks (whether Moroccans or of other nationalities), Sahraouis and Berbers, and on the measures taken to prevent it. The Committee wanted to know what measures were taken to preserve the Berber culture and if persons of Berber and Sahraoui origin encountered difficulties in gaining access to education or employment.

215. With regard to article 5 of the Convention, it was noted that no practical information had been supplied on free and equal access of Moroccans and foreigners to the courts. The members of the Committee sought information on cases of discrimination before the courts, on allegations of the arbitrary arrest of Blacks and Sahraouis, and on special detention centres in which persons could be detained without trial. They also asked for information concerning the work of the commission established to review the Moudawana (Code of Personal Law) in the field of the advancement of the status of women, and concerning the new Labour Code. Members of the Committee asked whether the Sahraouis could travel without restraint, and why the Baha'is were refused passports to leave the country. They wished to know more about the functions of the advisory council for human rights created in 1990, and whether it had concluded that racist acts had occurred in Morocco.

216. With respect to article 6 of the Convention, members of the Committee asked for practical information relating to the remedies available in cases of discriminatory acts or practices. They wished to know whether those remedies and recourses were available to associations and organizations acting on behalf of victims of such acts.

217. Replying to the questions raised by members of the Committee, the representative of the State party stressed the primacy of international law in his country; the provisions of instruments such as the Convention could be invoked directly before Moroccan courts, which offered adequate protection against the offences referred to in article 4 of the Convention. He said that different cultures and societies had different expectations and definitions of terms and this should be taken into account when assessing human rights considerations in Morocco. He also claimed that Islam had always allowed freedom of worship for the "revealed" religions and that the whole concept of discrimination was alien to Islam. He recognized that the wording of paragraph 41 of the report was misleading in that it spoke of "restoring rights to women", when Moroccan women had never been deprived of any rights.

218. The mandate of the Advisory Council was to assist the King in all matters of relevance to human rights; it was composed of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, of the Interior, of Justice and of Islamic Affairs, and representatives of all political parties, trade unions and non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights. The Council had set up three working groups dealing with police custody and custody pending trial, prison conditions and contacts with non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights. The Council had no specific mandate concerning racial discrimination and had as yet received no complaint under that heading.

219. With respect to the treatment of foreign residents, the representative said that Moroccan law offered them the same protection as Moroccans; the services of a court interpreter were made available if necessary. He added that Black Moroccans were integrated into Moroccan society and suffered no discrimination; the only form of hostility to which they might be exposed was the "day-to-day" antipathy that might be encountered anywhere among individuals. Concerning languages spoken in Morocco, the representative said that since the eighth century all Moroccans had shared the same language, Arabic, though other languages such as Berber and Spanish were spoken. In addition to Arabic, French was compulsory in school from a certain level. Schools were attended by students of Arab and Berber origin alike.

220. With respect to the information sought on special detention centres, the representative said that the Government of Morocco cooperated with non-governmental organizations, which played a very useful part in denouncing human rights violations, but he strongly denied the allegations of disappearances of Sahraouis. In 1991, some 270 of those reported to have disappeared, who had in fact been held under house arrest, had been released. Baha'ism was regarded as a heresy and as a danger to Islam, although it might be practised in private. Baha'i propaganda was prohibited. Non-monotheistic religions might also be practised if this did not disturb public order.

221. The Committee thanked the representative for his informative remarks, but noted that article 4 of the Convention was not being implemented in the manner required.

Concluding observations

222. At its 1038th meeting, on 17 March 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

223. It is noted with satisfaction that the report of the State party was prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of State party reports (CERD/C/70/Rev.3) and appreciation is expressed to the State party's delegation for the additional information that it provided to the Committee. It is also noted with satisfaction that Morocco has submitted a core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.23) containing useful information of a general character and that the report under consideration contains replies of the Government to the comments made by the Committee on the eighth periodic report of Morocco, which was considered in 1988. It is regretted, however, that the ninth and tenth periodic reports were not submitted on time and that the combined report under consideration covers a period of almost six years. It is also noted that the report did not provide concrete information on the implementation of the Convention in practice and therefore did not fully comply with the State party's obligations under article 9 of the Convention.

(b) Positive aspects

224. The legislative and administrative measures adopted by the Government of Morocco with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights in general and eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms are welcomed. It is noted with satisfaction that all international human rights treaties ratified by Morocco, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, have been incorporated into domestic law and that their provisions are directly applicable and may be invoked before Moroccan courts. It is also noted with satisfaction that the Advisory Council for Human Rights has recently been set up in order to advise on human rights-related issues.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

225. It is regretted that the report does not contain information on the demographic composition of the Moroccan population and attention is called in this regard to paragraph 8 of the guidelines.

226. Concern is expressed once again that the State party has not implemented the provisions contained in article 4 of the Convention, which call for the adoption of specific penal legislation. In that connection, it is recalled that where the criminal law contains specific provisions covering racist acts, a State is better placed to deal with such phenomena.

227. It is regretted that insufficient information was provided on the implementation of articles 5 and 6 of the Convention, in particular information on the number of complaints of racial discrimination, the situation of the rural population, and information on the protection of the right, without discrimination, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

228. The Committee wishes the Government of Morocco to provide, in its next report, information on the ethnic composition of the Moroccan population, in the light of paragraph 8 of the guidelines.

229. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party comply fully with the obligations under article 4 of the Convention and that necessary legislative measures be taken in order to give effect to the provisions of that article.

230. The Committee draws the State party's attention to the periodicity of reporting established by the Convention and urges the State party to comply with it. The twelfth periodic report, due on 17 January 1994, could be of an updating character, containing responses to these questions and comments of the members of the Committee at the forty-fourth session.

231. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which was approved by the fifteenth meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and encourages the State party to expedite its action formally to accept that amendment.


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