Contributor(s)Observatoire marocain des prisons (OMP) / independent experts


With the technical support of the European Union, Morocco leads a penal, judiciary, and penitentiary reform (2019-2021). One of the challenges of reform is introducing alternative punishments to the removal of freedom, which currently inexistent in the country. It also aims to simplify the application of sentence adjustments. Conditional release or parole and sentence changes, up until now, rest on granting royal pardons.

Moroccan prisons have been managed by the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR) since 2008. This is associated to the Prime Minister. The establishments are presided over by the Moroccan Penitentiary law of 1999, which established general regulations concerning detention.

The death penalty is still included in the Moroccan Penal Code. The country has not practised execution since 1993. People who are sentenced to death, in practice, serve life sentences. Their detention conditions are particularly difficult, they do not benefit from activities, run higher risks of depression, and many of them even sleep on the ground. People with long term, life, or death sentences spend their sentences in the country’s two central prisons.

Morocco’s prison buildings included prisons, the majority of which are overpopulated. The average area per prisoner is below 2 m². Overpopulation is particularly intense in local prisons, where people in temporary detention and those with short term sentences are normally detained.

The prison administration offers a number of activities, specifically religious and training activities in partnership with state bodies or associations. Access to sport, cultural and training activities is limited for people grouped in the maximum security regime, however. Work is almost inexistent in Moroccan prisons. It is seen as a privilege, reserved for prisoners who demonstrate good behavior and limited to general service jobs.

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