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Committee Against Torture - Death Penalty - 2011

Date: October 3, 2011
Country: Morocco
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Death Penalty, International Advocacy, Torture
Mechanism: UN Committee against Torture
Report Type: Shadow/Parallel Report
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Submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture, 47th Session of the Committee against Torture (31 October – 25 November, 2011)

Partner: The World Coalition against the Death Penalty

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 percent 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.