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

Special populations

Number and percentage of female prisoners

2.3 % (1,907)
i
2018
/ Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, p. 32.

Variation in the number of female prisoners

increase of 10.9%

i

This increase took place between 2014 and 2018. There were 1,719 female prisoners in 2014. The change in the number of female prisoners is proportional to the change in the overall prison population.

Percentage of untried female prisoners

51 %

(976)

i
31/12/2018
/ Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP)

Percentage of foreign female prisoners

4.35 %

(83)

i
31/12/2018
/ OMP, “Rapport 2018, 2019, p. 04.

Women are detained in specifically dedicated facilities or units. There are two facilities for women:

  • Toulal 3
  • Ain Sebaa (Casablanca)

Some local prisons have units dedicated for women, such as the Loudaya prison (Marrakesh) and Ait Melloul 2 prison (Agadir).

There is an effective separation between men and women

yes
i

Untried female prisoners are separated from the convicted

no

In principle, the law provides for the separation of untried prisoners and convicted prisoners. This provision is not respected in the majority of facilities.

The prison staff is

exclusively female

The staff is exclusively female in all women’s detention sites. All male staff, including the warden, are accompanied by female staff when they enter women’s units (Penitentiary law article 4).

All searches on female prisoners are carried out by a female staff member.

The necessary amenities for care specific to women is rarely available. In its report, the administration does not mention prisoners’ access to sanitary products or gynaecological consultations. According to investigators, it is difficult for women to access consultations.

Women have access to workshops on:

  • dress-making and embroidery
  • hairdressing and beauty
  • manual work
  • breadmaking and baking
  • literacy
  • housekeeping
  • carpet weaving

Women who are detained in units within facilities for men have fewer possibilities for training than others.

Some activities, such as electrical work or plumbing, are for men only.

Conjugal visits are allowed for women

no

the law does not mention conjugal visits

Pregnant women are housed in specific units or cells

in some facilities

There is specific accommodation for pregnant women and mothers who are accompanied by their children, there are Houses for Mums (Maisons des Mamans) in two facilities: the local Oudaya prison and the Aïn Sebaa 2 (Casablanca).1


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, 2019, p. 84 (in Arabic). 

The legislation provides for a sentence adjustment for pregnant women or women with young children

no

Pregnant women receive proper prenatal care

yes

The prison service is responsible for guaranteeing the medical care and monitoring of pregnant women, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Programme (SMI). The programme includes medical monitoring, biological testing and ultrasounding. 1


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, p. 91. 

Childbirth takes place in

  • external care facilities

  • the prison facilities

Childbirth takes place in the infirmary in some facilities or in public hospitals. According to the law, female prisoners are granted special permission to leave when they are “about to give birth” (Penitentiary law, article 139).

The facility head or the officer responsible for social welfare notifies the civil registry service of all births that take place within facilities.

Security staff is prohibited from entering the room during labour and childbirth

yes

Mothers are allowed to keep their children with them

yes, until the age of three

The relevant judicial authority must grant special authorisation. This limit can be extended up to the age of five, at the mother’s request, and subject to authorisation by the Ministry of Justice (Penitentiary law, article 139).

Facilities or units reserved for women must have a place that serves as a crèche for mothers accompanied by young children. (Penitentiary law article 34) These areas typically consist of a room with toys or a courtyard.

The Houses for Mums (Maisons des Mamans) at Oudaya and Aïn Sebaa 2 include living spaces (double bedrooms) and a crèche with play areas.

The security staff in the children’s living spaces do not wear civilian clothes. Nannies who are not affiliated with prison staff look after the children at the “House for Mums” (Maisons des Mamans) during the day.

The prison service gives out clothes and toys to children accompanying their mothers in prison. It organises henna ritual ceremonies when a child is born (part of the Berber tradition), baptisms (A’qiqa), circumcisions for boys and some trips.1

Other specific needs relating to food and support for children are not reported.


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, p. 162. 

The law bans the imprisonment of minors

no

The legal age of majority in Morocco is 18.

Minimum age of juvenile incarceration

12

Minors are considered partly responsible on the grounds that they are not fully capable of discernment (code de la procédure pénale, article 458 ; Penal Code, article 139). They can, however, be incarcerated.

Incarcerated minors

1.5 % (1,224)

Including 41 girls.

i
31/12/2018
/ Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, p. 32.

Variation in the number of incarcerated minors

increase of 66.5%

There was a decrease in the number of minors between 2017 and 2018 (13.3%). This trend is part of an overall increase (66.5%) in the number of minors in prison since 2014. 1


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, 2019, p.140 (in Arabic). 

Ministry in charge of juvenile offenders

the Prime Minister

The DGAPR is responsible for minors detained in correctional facilities.

Offences involving minors are investigated and sentenced by specific magistrates.

Investigation:

The juvenile judge investigates files referred by the public prosecutor. Criminal acts are investigated by the officer responsible for minors at the Courts of Appeal.

Trial

Two different authorities are in charge of trials, according to the type of offence and the length of the sentence incurred:

  • the juvenile judge at the court of first instance when the corresponding offence carries a sentence of less than two years in prison

  • the juvenile chamber of the court of first instance when the corresponding offence carries a sentence of more than two years in prison. The chamber is made up of a presiding juvenile judge and two other magistrates.

Minors can be given custodial sentences or, less frequently, can be placed in a child protection centre. This usually takes place in cases where minors have already served long sentences.

Minors can be placed in different kinds of facilities, in prisons or in other facilities, according to age and the type of offence committed. These facilities are:

  • child safeguarding centres (CSE): these are the responsibility of the Department of Youth. They cater for “resident” children, aged between seven and 18. There are 18 CSEs, two of which are for girls.

  • child protection centres: these are managed by the Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport. They are socio-educational facilities the intake of which is a judicial decision, “children who have committed criminal offences, under articles 471 and 481 of the Code of Criminal Procedure”. There are six of these centres.

  • reform and education centres (CRE): these are detention centres attached to the prison service. Minors and young adults (up to 20 years old) are detained there. There are three CREs (Aïn Sebaa, Settat et Salé).

Minors can also be detained in dedicated units within adult correctional facilities.

Figures on juvenile prisoners are published

annually

The figures relating to minors in prison are included in the DGAPR annual report.

Juvenile prisoners are separated from adults

yes

Moroccan law states that minors must be detained in designated units or premises. (Penitentiary law, article 5).

This requirement is not always met. Young adults and minors are jailed together in CREs up to the age of 20. Minors are sometimes detained in local prisons with adults.

See Overview section for more information on local prisons.

The law provides for single cell accommodation for juvenile prisoners

no

The schooling of minors is compulsory

no

The schooling of minors takes place on request and according to the capacity of the facility.

Penitentiary law states that the warden must ensure the continuation of studies or professional training for prisoners under 20 years old “whenever possible” (article 38).

There are activity requirements for minors placed in reform and education centres. Schooling is a priority at these centres followed by professional training.

The law prohibits strip searches for juvenile prisoners

Data not disclosed

There is no clear guidance relating to strip searches for juvenile prisoners.

Specific activities are planned for minors such as intensive teaching and cultural, religious and artistic activities. These activities are mostly organised by associations or by the Council of Ulemas (an institution which supports religious policy in Morocco). 1


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, 2019, p. 161 (in Arabic). 

1.2 % (1,015)
i
05/2018
/ DGAPR

This number includes 610 people from the African continent, 232 from Europe, 67 from the Americas and 50 from continental Asia. 1

More than half of foreign prisoners are from the African continent, 209 of whom are Nigerian. The other foreign prisoners are mostly French (70), Brazilian (32) and Syrian (25).1

Foreign prisoners are informed of their right to communicate with their consular representatives

yes

The prison regulations are translated for foreign prisoners

no

The officer responsible for social welfare must orally communicate relevant information on prison rules to foreign prisoners in a language they understand (Moroccan prison framework (Référentiel pénitentiaire marocain), DGAPR 2016-2020 strategy, rule 17).

In 2018, the Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP) called for a consultation to draw up a guide on the treatment of foreign prisoners in Morocco.

Foreign prisoners can be assisted by an interpreter

no

Foreign prisoners are entitled to legal aid

yes

Legally resident foreign prisoners have access to it.

Illegal residence is punishable with imprisonment, according to the provisions of Law no. 02-03. This provides for fines and imprisonment for any foreign person who:

  • has remained in Morocco beyond the length of their visa “except in cases of force majeure or a valid reason”
  • is a resident in Morocco without holding a registration card or residence card
  • whose registration card or residence card has expired and who has not applied for a renewal within the time limits stipulated by law, “except in cases of force majeure or a valid reason”

Foreign prisoners are allowed to remain in the country after having served their sentence

under certain circumstances

The right to remain in the country varies according to countries and the agreements they have with Morocco.

Foreign prisoners are allowed to work while incarcerated

yes

In general, there are very few opportunities for work. National prisoners are given priority access to them.

A long-term sentence is considered as such as of

5 years

Cumulative sentences have a limit

no

There are specific prison facilities for long-term prisoners

yes

Long-term prisoners mostly carry out their sentences in the country’s two central prisons. There are also long-term prisoners in some local high security prisons. This is the case at the Tiflet 2 prison where people with sentences of between three and ten years are imprisoned.

Length of sentence forms a part of the way in which prisoners are classified. Long-term prisoners are often put in class A, the regime with highest security, and have less access to activities.

Life sentences are banned

no

People serving a life sentence

0.7 % (551)
i
12/2018
/ DGAPR, "Activity report 2018”, p. 147.

Life sentences are imposed in particular for crimes linked to terrorism and violent crime.

There are specific prison facilities for life-sentenced prisoners

yes

Life-sentenced prisoners are detained in central prisons, alongside long-term prisoners.

Life-sentenced prisoners are not subject to a specific prison regime. However, they are automatically classified as category A during the first years of their sentence. Their classification can then change.

Life-sentenced prisoners cannot apply for parole, a measure which is rarely granted in Morocco. They are however eligible for a royal pardon.

See Sentence adjustments policies for more information.

39.1 % (32,732)
i
31/12/2018
/ DGAPR, "Activity report 2018", p. 32.

Variation in the number of untried prisoners

increase of 2.86%

This increase took place between 2014 and 2018. There were 31 822 untried prisoners in 2014. 1


  1. Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation (DGAPR), “Activity report 2018”, 2019, p. 140 (in Arabic). 

Untried prisoners are separated from the convicted

no

The regulations state that untried and convicted prisoners should be detained separately, in dedicated facilities. (Penitentiary law, article 6). This requirement is not always met.

The law provides for release on bail for untried prisoners

yes

Release on bail can take place in two ways:

  • personal recognisance, in the form of a guarantee by a third party on behalf of the accused

  • cash bail, in the form of the payment of a sum of money by the accused. This is subject to judicial supervision.

The bail system is not often used.

The length of pre-trial detention is limited to one year. This time limit is often exceeded. The excessive use of pre-trial detention can lead to arbitrary detention.

Moroccan law does not allow prisoners to appeal against pre-trial detention.

Untried prisoners do not benefit from a special regime of detention in line with the presumption of their innocence. They are jailed in local prisons which are often overcrowded and where the requirement of individual cells for defendants is not met.

Defendants are sometimes transferred to other areas of the relevant jurisdiction due to overcrowding. These transfers slow down the justice system and separate prisoners from their relatives.

Data collection about prisoners’ minority or indigenous background is allowed

yes

Minority or indigenous backgrounds are criteria for specific cell or unit assignment

in certain cases

Foreign prisoners are sometimes separated from the rest of the prison population.

The specific needs of prisoners are taken into account with regard to

religion

There are political prisoners or prisoners of conscience (including Sahrawi separatists, politically active young people and Riffians) in Moroccan prisons.1 The law does not provide for imprisonment for these reasons and the government does not recognise the existence of these people. These prisoners are usually convicted for criminal offences on the basis of confessions obtained under duress. They are not subject to a particular prison regime and are often the targets of torture and ill treatment. 2

The prosecution or imprisonment of a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity is banned

no

Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code punishes any person engaged in an “indecent” or “unnatural” act with a person of the same sex with between six months and three years in prison and a fine of between 200 and 1,000 dirhams.

LGBTI persons are separated from other prisoners

no

The prison service does not provide special protection for LGBTI prisoners. These people are in a highly vulnerable position within prisons. They are often the target of attacks.

Assignment of transgender prisoners to a specific facility depends on

their biological sex

Transgender prisoners are entitled to customised searches

no

Transgender prisoners benefit from specific health care

no

Conjugal visits are allowed for LGBTI prisoners

no

the law does not mention conjugal visits

The prison service keeps a record of elderly prisoners

yes

Elderly prisoners (≥60 years)

1.9 % (1,563)

The number of elderly prisoners increased by 38.56% between 2015 and 2018.

i
31/12/2018
/ DGAPR, "Activity report 2018", p. 140.

Elderly prisoners do not benefit from specific arrangements and care. They are usually classified as category C. This category corresponds to the lowest level of security with increased access to activities.

The law does not provide for early release for elderly prisoners.

The prison service keeps a record of prisoners with disabilities

yes

Prison facilities are adapted to the needs of prisoners with disabilities

no

Correctional facilities are required to provide cells which are adapted for people with reduced mobility (Moroccan prison framework (Référentiel pénitentiaire marocain), DGAPR strategy 2016-2020, rule no. 35). In practice, they do not cater for the needs of prisoners with disabilities.

Prison staff receive minimal training in the care and support for disabled prisoners. This takes place as part of their initial training.

Death penalty is abolished

no, but suspended in practice

The death penalty is provided for in article 138 of the 2014 Code of Military Justice (Code de justice militaire). These codes state that execution must be carried out by shooting and must not be made public. No executions have taken place since 1993. However, the courts still regularly sentence people to death. These rulings contravene the right to life, guaranteed by article 20 of the 2011 constitution. The 1962 Penal Code provides for capital punishment for 36 offences mainly concerning attacks on the security of the King and State, crimes linked to terrorism, assassination, parricide, crimes characterised as torture and barbaric acts.

Number of death sentenced prisoners awaiting execution

72

including two women

i
12/2018
/ Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP), “Rapport 2018, 2019, p. 05.

Number of executions

0

i
2018

The death penalty is replaced by a sentence of between 10 and 15 years for minors. The law states that pregnant women can be executed two years after giving birth.

No executions have taken place since 1993. Death sentences are, in practice, life sentences.

Prisoners sentenced to death are placed in special facilities, units or cells

yes

Prisoners sentenced to death carry out their sentences in the country’s two central prisons.

See Prison Facilities section for more information on the type of prison facilities.

Prisoners sentenced to death are subject to a very harsh prison regime and live in precarious conditions. Together Against the Death Penalty (EPCM) has met with prisoners sentenced to death at Kenitra prison. Prisoners sleep on the floor without a mattress and are only allowed to shower once a week. A large proportion of them suffer from psychopathological problems. They are at particular risk of depression. They do not benefit from sporting or leisure activities.

The prison service is required to ensure that prisoners sentenced to death maintain family ties. However, these people are isolated and rarely receive visits. The main reasons for this are the geographical distance from the central prisons and the “dishonour” felt by families. A sense of abandonment is widespread among prisoners sentenced to death.

Following their visit in September 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur reported that living conditions on death row in Morocco are classed as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Prisoners sentenced to death are usually jailed in dedicated units. These units are equipped with a special surveillance system.

The death penalty debate has mobilised civil society organisations. The Moroccan Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CMCPM) has been fighting to abolish it since 2003. This coalition brings together 11 organisations including the Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP) and the Association of Lawyers’ Bars in Morocco (l’Association des barreaux d’avocats au Maroc). There have been official calls within the Moroccan parliamentary network against the death penalty. The former president of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Driss El Yazami, regularly speaks out in favour of abolishing it. Mustafa Ramid, former Minister of Justice and Liberties and current Minister for Human Rights is in favour of keeping the death penalty but campaigns for it to be restricted.