Morocco accedes to the torture prevention treaty

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On 24 November 2014, Morocco became the 76th State party to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) worldwide and the fourth State party in the region of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), after Lebanon, Tunisia and Mauritania.

The APT congratulates the Kingdom of Morocco for acceding to this unique international human rights treaty and becoming part of the growing community of States that proactively prevent violations of human rights and take concrete actions to protect persons deprived of their liberty from torture and ill-treatment.

Morocco is one of the States which initiated the Convention against Torture Initiative in 2014, demonstrating its commitment to fully implement the Convention against Torture and reduce the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Against this backdrop, ratification of the OPCAT by Morocco also has a particular significance and paves the way to improve the prevention of torture worldwide and in the MENA region.

Efforts by many actors

This historical step undertaken by Morocco is the culmination of significant efforts from a range of actors, including the Moroccan government, the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and civil society organisations and it comes on the eve of the Second World Human Rights Forum, which will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 27-30 November 2014.

The APT welcomes the step taken by Morocco on the occasion of the Second World Human Rights Forum, following the good precedent set by Brazil in the context of the First World Human Rights Forum (Brasilia, December 2013), when the President of the Republic signed the decree regulating the functioning of the National Preventive Mechanism established under the OPCAT.

Historical importance for Morocco and its NHRI

The Interministerial Delegate for Human Rights of the government of Morocco, Mahjoub El Hiba, underlines the historical importance of the adherence of Morocco. Concerning the practical implementation, his views reflect a general leaning towards giving the role the National Preventive Mechanism to the CNDH. Driss al Yazami, President of the CNDH, confirms in an interview that the NHRI aspires to take on this role, which they believe would “allow for better prevention, in particular during police and pretrial detention. The Secretary General of the CNDH, Mohammed Sabbar, describes the OPCAT as a dike against torture that will open new possibilities to protect persons deprived of liberty against torture. 

The APT encourages Morocco to continue its efforts towards the effective implementation of the OPCAT, by establishing, within a year, an independent and adequately resourced NPM in compliance with all OPCAT requirements. The establishment of the NPM is an obligation of the state under the OPCAT. Therefore, the primary responsibility lies with the government but, to ensure the legitimacy of the NPM, it is very important that it is established through an open, inclusive and transparent process, involving not only the authorities but also a wide range of actors, including civil society.