Morocco's Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Synthesis of the Final Report
The Justice and Reconciliation Commission (JRC) was officially established by His Majesty the King Mohamed VI on January 7, 2004. In the speech given on that occasion, the Sovereign conferred on the Commission a historical significance and entrusted in it great responsibility in defining it as a commission for truth and justice.
The JRC is composed of a president and 16 members of different political leanings, half of them from Consultative Council of Human Rights (CCDH), all united around the same objectives of the protection and promotion of human rights. It proceeded itself to the development of its statutes, which were approved by Dahir (royal decree) on April 10, 2004 and published in the Official Bulletin of the Kingdom, dated April 12, 2004. In its statutes, the JRC specified and detailed the missions invested in it, the violations which were the object of its mandate and the organizational modalities of its work.
The JRC set aside 23 months to examine a period of 43 years, the period of reference covered by its mandate and which extended from the beginning of the country's independence in 1956 to the date of the approval by His Majesty the King of the creation of the Independent Commission of Arbitration in 1999. Its modalities of action consisted of the investigation, research, evaluation, arbitration, and presentation of recommendations and propositions for reform. The investigations focused on the serious human rights violations which assumed a systematic and/or massive character, having taken place during the aforementioned period and which included forced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, violations of the right to life, in particular as a result of the disproportionate use of force and forced exile.
The JRC proceeded to an overall evaluation of the settlement of cases of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention, did research, and consulted with the public officials, the victims, their families or representatives and the non-governmental organizations concerned. In this manner, it strived for the establishment of the truth about the serious violations of human rights, by means of investigations, collection of evidence, public audiences with victims and audiences behind closed doors with witnesses and former officials, examination of official archives and collection of facts from all available sources. The JRC was able in that way to establish the nature, the gravity and the context of said violations, in light of the principles and norms of international human rights law, to clarify the cases of enforced disappearance. It was also able to recommend the procedures for settlement or closure of the cases of the disappeared where the death of the victim had been established. In addition, the JRC clarified certain of the historical events which had occasioned human rights violations and determined the responsibilities of the state actors and, in particular cases, the non-state actors for the violations which were the object of the investigations.
On the subject of reparation, the JRC examined and ruled on the demands received from the victims of serious human rights violations or their legal successors. As well as decisions on indemnity, it also presented recommendations on matters of medical and psychological rehabilitation, social reintegration, and the resolution of certain victims’ persistent legal, administrative and professional problems, as in cases of expropriation. Noting that certain regions and communities had collectively suffered, in a direct or indirect manner, the consequences of violent political crises and [rights’] violations, the JRC accorded a special place to communal reparation. Thus, it advocated the adoption and support of programs of socio-economic and cultural development for a number of cities and regions, and recommended the conversion of old illegal detention centers.
Finally, the JRC drafted a final report, consisting of the results and conclusions of the investigations and analyses concerning the violations and their contexts, as well as recommendations of sensitive reforms to preserve the memory and guarantee the non-repetition of violations, to erase their consequences, to restore and reinforce confidence in institutions and respect for the rule of law and human rights.
Below is an executive summary of the content of the JRC's final report.
In order to guarantee the non-repetition of serious human rights violations and to consolidate the process of reform in which the country is engaged, the JRC put forth a series of recommendations, dealing in particular with constitutional reforms, the implementation of a national strategy against impunity, and the follow-up of the recommendations.
I – The consolidation of constitutional guarantees of human rights, in particular through the consecration of the primacy of international human rights law over domestic law, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial…The JRC recommends, moreover, the reinforcement of the principle of the separation of powers, and the constitutional ban on all interference of executive power in the organization and the functioning of judicial power.
It recommends that the following be explained in the constitutional text: the terms of fundamental liberties and rights, regarding the freedoms of movement, of expression, of demonstration, of association, of striking…as well as principles such as the privacy of correspondence [secrecy of letters], the inviolability of the home and the respect for private life.
The JRC also recommends the strengthening of the control over the constitutionality of laws and executive decrees, foreseeing in the constitution the right of citizens to base his case on the unconstitutionality of a law or a decree.
Following the example of the already old constitutional ban on the one party, the JRC finally recommends the prohibition of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, genocide and other crimes against humanity, torture and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the banning of all forms of discrimination which are prohibited internationally, as well as every form of incitement to racism, xenophobia, violence and hate.
II – The adoption and the implementation of an integrated national strategy against impunity
The JRC considers that the eradication of impunity demands, in addition to judicial reforms, the development and establishment of public policies in the sectors of justice, of security and law-enforcement, of education and continuing education. It also demands the active involvement of civil society. This strategy must have as its foundation international human rights law, which will require the harmonization of criminal legislation with the country's international obligations. This can be achieved by:
- Integrating in domestic law the definitions, qualifications and constitutive elements of the crimes of enforced disappearance, torture and arbitrary detention.
- Recovering the definition of the responsibility and the sanctions incurred as defined in international instruments.
- Making it an obligation for all members of civil or military personel charged with the application of laws to report all information concerning the said crimes, whatever the sponsoring authority.
- Strengthening in a significant manner the protection of the rights of victims and means of recourse.
III – The JRC considers that the consolidation of the state of law also demands reforms in the areas of security, justice, legislation and criminal policy.
Thus, it recommends in particular:
I – The governance of security apparatuses , which require in particular the adaptation, clarification and publication of regulations regarding the allocations, organization, decision-making, operation and supervision and evaluation of all security and intelligence apparatuses.
II – The strengthening of the independence of the judiciary, which, in addition to recommended constitutional reforms, will require the revision of the organic law regarding the status of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM). The JRC recommends in this regard that the presidency of CSM, by delegation to the Premier President of the Supreme Court, be entrusted with the broadening of its composition to sectors other than the magistracy… [Unfinished phrase in the original French version]
III – The adaptation of criminal legislation and policy, which demand the strengthening of the guarantees of the due process of law against human rights violations. It also demands the implementation of the recommendations of the National Colloquium on Criminal Policy held in Meknès in 2004. Moreover, it recommends the establishment of a definition of violence against women which conforms to international standards, as well as the recommendations of CCDH concerning penitentiary establishments (broadening of the prerogatives of a judge in the application of punishments, recourse to alternative punishments…)
IV – Follow-Up Mechanisms
According to the terms of its mandate, the JRC considers the following questions as constituting the object of its follow-up procedures and mechanisms:
- The execution of decisions regarding the indemnity and the follow-up of other modalities of reparation, which include the psychological and medical rehabilitation of victims, the programs of communal reparation…
- The establishment of recommendations regarding the establishment of the truth concerning the cases not yet elucidated
- The establishment of recommendations of reforms formulated by the JRC,
- The preservation of the archives of the JRC and the public archives