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Rule of Law Programs in Morocco

Access to Justice and Human Rights

Supporting Juvenile Justice Alternatives

Through funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) juvenile justice program offers alternatives to detention for minors in conflict with the law. Under this program, ABA ROLI’s partners will explore alternative sentencing options under the current criminal legislative framework and legislative changes that may lead to an expansion of alternatives to pre-trial detention and incarceration. ABA ROLI is partnering with the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and local non-governmental organizations engaged in juvenile justice issues, such as Bayt Al Hikma, to host a conference series and to conduct a pilot project to test alternatives. At the same time, ABA ROLI is working in tandem with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice to increase awareness of alternative sentencing options among judges and prosecutors. 

Exploring Alternative Sentencing and Plea Bargaining

We recently received funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs to explore the use of plea bargaining in Morocco. ABA ROLI will co-host a two-day, high-level conference that will bring together judges, lawyers, prosecutors, police, Ministry of Justice officials and international experts to explore the legal and institutional mechanisms necessary to establish a plea bargaining system, including ethical considerations, prosecutor discretion and an examination of sentencing and alternatives to incarceration. In addition, participants will be exposed to comparative international alternatives. After the conference, ABA ROLI provide technical assistance to a working group charged with developing proposed procedures for introducing plea bargaining under Morocco’s current criminal legal framework. 

Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity

Supporting Anti-Corruption Institutions

With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has provided technical support to Morocco’s Anti-Corruption Commission, L’Instance Centrale de Prévention de la Corruption (ICPC). This work helps strengthen its institutional capacity and develops various instruments to combat corruption, including draft laws and public education materials. Most notably, we provided technical assistance to the ICPC as it drafted the country’s first witness protection legislation, which the Moroccan Parliament passed in October 2011.

Also in 2011, we worked with the ICPC to secure the passage of freedom of information legislation. A conflict of interest law is currently working its way through the legislative process. Equally significant, the ICPC, with ABA ROLI technical expertise, is drafting legislation that will strengthen the ICPC’s institutional mandate, in response significantly increased authorities and power granted to it under the new Moroccan constitution. ABA ROLI is also assisting the ICPC with fundamental institutional capacity building issues.

ABA ROLI also supports anti-corruption assistance centers (ACAC), operated by the Young Lawyers Unions of Rabat, Khemisset and Tangier. Citizens can seek advice at the ACACs on everyday issues of corruption or abuse of authority, including on everyday government interactions such as obtaining a birth certificate, license or other government documentation.

Professional Ethics

ABA ROLI also supports efforts by the Rabat Young Lawyers Union (RYLU) to develop a charter of ethics for Morocco’s lawyers to promote more ethical behavior within the legal profession. Although the charter is not yet completed, RYLU’s work has inspired the Rabat Bar Association to take up similar efforts to promote more ethical behavior by creating a publication on lawyer ethics and by sponsoring an Ethics Day on October 24, 2011. RYLU’s work on professional ethics has been informed by past ABA ROLI support for the development of Charters of Ethics for the judiciary by the Hassania, Morocco’s judicial association, and for judicial administrative staff by the Amicale des fonctionnaires de la justice, Morocco’s union of judicial clerks.

Judicial Reform

Strengthening Judicial Ethics

In 2010, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) helped develop a 30-hour training module on judicial ethics by the Institut Supérieur de la Magistrature (ISM), the Moroccan judicial training institute. The course drew largely from the Judicial Charter of Ethics adopted by the Hassania in April 2009. The ISM unveiled the module in January 2011 and began incorporating it in its orientation training for new judges in spring 2011. The course’s content and interactive training characteristics drew the attention of high-level judicial officials, particularly in light of constitutional changes that may strengthen the independence of the judiciary. That spurred interest in working with ABA ROLI to offer similar training opportunities for sitting judges. In fall 2011, ABA ROLI will begin working with the ISM to modify the existing training module for sitting judges and to co-organize with the Hassania and the ISM a series of workshops for judges in judicial districts where the Hassania maintains offices. 

Enhancing Judicial Education

In partnership with the ISM, ABA ROLI completed multi-year regional program in 2009 aimed at enhancing judicial education on international human rights and women’s equality. The Morocco aspect of that program, which was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, led the development of cutting edge, interactive e-learning courses that addressed such subjects as international standards of human rights, legal principles of gender equality, women’s rights under the Moroccan Family Code, women’s rights under Moroccan labor law, alternative dispute resolution and leadership skills. The modules were later replicated for use in Algeria, Bahrain and Jordan with great success. In addition to creating a sustainable set of training materials for judges, the program served as a catalyst for the enhancement and expansion of regional training centers for judges in Morocco.

Legal Education and Civic Education

Human Rights Clinical Legal Education

In 2007, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) supported the establishment of a human rights clinical legal education program at the Law Faculty of the University of Hassan II in Mohammedia. The clinical program was the first of its kind in the region, linking practical skills training with the substantive study of law. The program, known as Le Centre de Conseil d’Assistance Juridique pour les Droits Humains (The Legal Assistance Center for Human Rights), continues to offer substantive training sessions for students and recent law graduates on human rights, labor law and practical legal skills. Participating students supplemented their substantive and practical legal skills training with live-client legal consultations on labor disputes to underserved Moroccan citizens, including textile workers, truck drivers, security guards and agricultural laborers. Following the initial ABA ROLI-supported development of the program, University of Hassan II committed to continue supporting the clinic on its own.

Women and the Law

Supporting Female Legal Professionals

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has worked to strengthen the effectiveness of Moroccan women legal professionals and to support their role in promoting women’s rights. We have organized trainings and other capacity-building activities—reaching more than 500 female legal professionals—on amendments to Morocco’s family code and on issues such as women’s rights under Islamic law and international standards and conventions with regard to women’s legal rights. Moreover, ABA ROLI has developed a database of more than 2,000 Moroccan women legal professionals, which has proved an invaluable networking and communication tool for Moroccan lawyers, judges and civil society members within Morocco and their counterparts in the MENA region.

ABA ROLI also worked with l’Association de l’Action des Femmes Juristes (AFJ) to hold seven meetings in Morocco. The meetings introduced more than 135 attendees to the concept of women’s legal professional associations, along with providing a manual (in Arabic and French) on how best to undertake training and public outreach activities. ABA ROLI has also provided support to women’s associations in Ourazzate and Tetouane on institutional management, strategic planning and advocacy skill building.

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative's work in Morocco is funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, and the US Agency for International Development.