Morocco ― Committee Against Torture ― Death Penalty ― Sept. 2011

Morocco ― Committee Against Torture ― Death Penalty ― Sept. 2011

In collaboration with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a shadow report to the Committee Against Torture at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding Morocco’s compliance with the 1987 Convention Against Torture. The shadow report focuses on the death penalty and living conditions of death row inmates. The report found that despite a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, Morocco continues to impose death sentences every year, although no executions have been carried out since 1993. There are currently an estimated 150 prisoners on death row. The egregious treatment and living conditions to which death row inmates are subjected are often cruel, inhuman and degrading, amounting to a violation of Morocco’s obligations under the convention.

A July 1, 2011 Constitutional amendment provides specifically for a “right to life,” and appears on its face to render the death penalty unconstitutional. However, skepticism remains whether the “right to life” provision will actually lead to removal of the death penalty from the Moroccan penal code. In the meantime, authorities often fail to provide adequate medical treatment to death row inmates and prisoners are severely undernourished and are forced to supplement their prison meals with care packages from families.

Prisons operate at roughly 133% maximum capacity, with each inmate receiving around 16 square feet instead of the mandated 97 square feet. Prisoners are subjected to extreme temperatures, live in unventilated cells infested with insects, and receive little to no exercise and time outside of their cells. Due to prolonged delays and conditions on death row, inmates may be at risk of “death row phenomenon.” Morocco is reportedly redrafting its penal code to “allow for parole and probation,” which would mitigate overcrowding. Some reports indicate that Morocco has initiated the construction of additional prison facilities that will house death row inmates, all of which are currently held with non-death row prisoners.