international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
The Country has 11 crimes that carry the death penalty, including aggravated murder, torture, armed robbery, arson, treason, desertion, and attempt to kill the King.
Following the May 16, 2003 bombings in Casablanca in which 43 people lost their lives, the government has started a real and proper war on terrorism. A new anti-terrorist law passed by parliament in May 2003 broadened the range of capital crimes by making ordinary crimes, punishable by life imprisonment under the Criminal Code, punishable by death penalty if designated as terrorist crimes.
The death penalty is subject to pardon which remains the constitutional prerogative of the Sovereign.
On July 1, 2011 the constitutional reforms called for by Mohammed VI were approved by a public referendum with a landslide 98% vote. Reforms included freedom for political parties, the separation of the government’s executive from its judicial branch, women’s rights and minority rights. For the first time, the Constitution affirms life as a fundamental right.
King Mohammed VI has not signed an execution decree since he took the throne on July 23, 1999. Since then, many people on death row had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, a further sign towards the abolition of capital punishment in the country.
The terrorist attacks in Casablanca, first in May 2003 and then in early 2007, led to resistance on the part of state authorities to the process of abolition of the death penalty under way in the country.
At the end of December 2013, there were four bills on capital punishment deposited at the lower house of Parliament: three of them for the abolition of the death penalty, and the fourth for a ten-year moratorium on executions.
Article 20 of the Moroccan Constitution, which stipulates that “The right to life is the first right of every human being. The law protects this right,” constitutes a legal ground for those who support the abolition of the death penalty. In this regard, on December 12, 2013 the Socialist Group has submitted a bill for consideration by the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives. While its approach to the issue is fundamentally abolitionist, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) still sets a condition to those sentenced to capital punishment: they will never receive royal pardon in exchange for the commutation of the penalty to perpetual imprisonment.
While maintaining their principled opposition to the abolition of the death penalty from the penal code, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist political party currently led by Morocco's Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, demands its regulation. The Islamist Party suggests the establishment of a ten-year moratorium on executions. PJD also suggests that inmates be not executed until their demand for royal amnesty is rejected. Mustapha Ramid, Minister of Justice and Liberties, joined his voice to the supporters of capital punishment, noting that the Moroccan society “is not yet ready to accept the abolition.” To corroborate his position, he shared the results of a survey conducted by a news website, in which 75% were in favour of maintaining the death penalty. Minister Ramid urged the parliament to conduct a consultation of the Moroccan people through a referendum, as a prerequisite before making any decisions.
Since 1973, only two people were put to death. The last execution took place in 1993 when Mohammed Tabet, Chief of Police and Chief of Intelligence of the country, was executed for abuses of power and the rape of hundreds of woman and girls.
On 16 June 2014, addressing the two Houses of Parliament, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Driss El Yazami, stressed the need to implement the main institutional recommendations of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, including the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the abolition of the death penalty. Although this provided campaigners with some hope that the kingdom was moving towards abolishing capital punishment, Morocco's Islamist-led parliament has not yet done so. On 8 October 2014, rights activists accused Moroccan authorities of keeping prisoners awaiting execution in "inhumane and unacceptable conditions". Abderrahim Jamai, coordinator of the Moroccan Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CMCPM), said some prisoners "have already spent 15 years in their cells and that begs the question about the amount of time it takes to implement a sentence." "Many of those condemned to death suffer from mental issues and endure extremely difficult psychological conditions," said lawmaker Nouzha Skalli, a former minister and spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Network Against the Death Penalty in Morocco.
According to government information, in 2015 Morocco imposed 9 death sentences, as in 2014, reported Amnesty International. As of 4 May 2016, there were about 120 people on death row, including some prisoners who had already spent 15 years in their cells. Many of those condemned to death suffer from mental issues and endure extremely difficult psychological conditions, according to lawmaker Nouzha Skalli, a former minister and spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Network Against the Death Penalty in Morocco.
On 30 July 2016 the Throne Day, King Mohammed VI granted pardon to 1,272 persons who were convicted by different courts across the Kingdom, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.
According to Amnesty International, in 2016 Morocco imposed 6 death sentences and at least 92 people are on death row at the end of the year.
On 22 May 2012, Morocco was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The Government reiterated that no capital punishment had been carried out since 1993, adding that there was also a draft law which aimed at reducing the number of crimes punished with death. Morocco rejected recommendations to introduce a de jure moratorium on the executions as rapidly as possible, to commute all death sentences to prison sentences and abolish, once and for all, the death penalty. However, it accepted recommendations to continue the implementation of a de facto moratorium on executions and make efforts to achieve the total abolishment of capital punishment.
On 19 December 2016, Morocco abstained again from the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.