GENEVA (31 October 2017) - The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) carried out its first visit to Morocco from 22 to 28 October 2017. The visit’s main objective was to advise and support the Government on the establishment of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. The SPT also assessed the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and the measures taken to protect them from torture and ill-treatment.
“To be able to improve the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and ill-treatment, the national preventive mechanism must meet the criteria of independence, efficiency and budgetary autonomy,” said Hans-Jörg Bannwart, head of the SPT delegation.
The SPT has the mandate to visit all State parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). According to the OPCAT, the national prevention mechanism (NPM) must have a mandate similar to that of the SPT.
State parties must establish an NPM within a year following the ratification of the OPCAT. Although the Kingdom of Morocco ratified the OPCAT in November 2014, the NPM has not yet been established. However, the delegation has noted that the Kingdom of Morocco intends to designate the National Council for Human Rights as NPM.
The delegation met with the Minister of State for Human Rights; the Minister of Justice; the President of the Prosecutor General; the President Delegate of the Superior Council of the Judiciary; the President of the Court of Appeal of Rabat; the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legislation and Human Rights; the President of the National Council for Human Rights; and representatives of UN agencies and civil society. The SPT delegation welcomes the constructive and fruitful discussions during its visit.
The SPT delegation also visited places of deprivation of liberty (prison, psychiatric hospital, gendarmeries and police stations). It was able to interview persons deprived of their liberty and staff.
“We welcome the legal framework put in place, as well as the ongoing reforms to strengthen efforts for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of persons deprived of their liberty. It is essential that all these instruments translate into daily reality,” said Mr. Bannwart. “The national preventive mechanism must have unconditional access to all places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty,” added Mr. Bannwart.
At the end of the visit, the SPT presented its preliminary and confidential observations to the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco.
The SPT will send to the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco its confidential report containing observations and recommendations, which it encourages to make public.
The SPT delegation was composed of the following members: Mr. Hans-Jörg Viktor Bannwart (Head of Delegation, Switzerland), Mr. Satyabhooshun Gupt Domah (Mauritius), Mr. Gnambi Garba Kodjo (Togo), Mr. Petros Michaelides (Cyprus), Mrs. Radhia Nasraoui (Tunisia) and Mrs. Catherine Paulet (France).
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To date, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has been ratified by 84 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, if necessary, to national preventive mechanisms. The SPT work is guided by the principles of confidentiality and cooperation.
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