Security, order, and discipline
Security functions are fulfilled by
the prison service
Some prison facilities, units or cells implement high-security measures
People in class A are detained in high-security cells or units.
See Prison facilities section for more information on these kinds of facilities.
Prisoners are classified according to their supposed level of dangerousness
The supposed level of dangerousness is part of the criteria for classification in level A, B or C.
See Organisation section for more information.
The classification of prisoners is revised
every three months
The classification commission of each facility carries out revisions.
The prison service is not trained in dynamic security.
The Penitentiary law states that prisoners can be searched “frequently and as often as the prison warden deems necessary” (Penitentiary law, article 68).
An officer of the same sex carries out body searches on prisoners.
All searches are logged in a register
Body cavity searches are conducted by a physician
Relatives who enter the prison are searched using the following methods
Professionals who enter the prison are searched using the following methods
Handcuffs, shackles and straightjackets are frequently used as instruments of restraint.
Handcuffs are used to transport or extract prisoners. Article 69 of the Prisons Act L’article 69 de la loi pénitentiaire authorises their use at “any time that the circumstances do not allow for other ways of sufficiently ensuring supervision” of prisoners.
The same article states that the use of instruments of restraint must be authorised by the warden or under medical advice “if there is no other way to restrain a prisoner, to prevent them from causing damage or from harming themselves or others”.
A doctor must be consulted during the use of these instruments. The warden is required to notify the director of the prison service. The use of instruments of restraint as a means of punishment is prohibited (article 62 of the Penitentiary law).
The use of instruments of restraint is subject to the warden’s authorisation.
Security staff carry
- non-lethal weapons
The warden is responsible for the use of weapons and ammunition (rule 3 of the Moroccan prison framework (Référentiel pénitentiaire marocain)).
The prison staff is authorised to use firearms when they are subject to violence or serious threat, when there is a threat to the security of the facility or in cases of refusal to comply (Penitentiary law, article 65).
A special intervention unit is in charge of restoring order
The prison service keeps record of incidents
Number of escapes
There were 15 escapes in 2017.
Number of violent acts against prison staff
Individual acts of protest are recorded
yes, hunger strikes
All hunger strikes must be reported to the director of the prison service, to the prisoner’s family and in the cases of untried prisoners, to the judicial authority (Penitentiary law, article 131).
Breaches of discipline are clearly defined in writing
Breaches of discipline are defined by article 54 of the Prison Act loi pénitentiaire.
The law states that disciplinary sanctions must correspond to the nature of the offence committed, be proportional to the seriousness of offences and be suited to the character of the offender.
The range of disciplinary sanctions are:1
a warning which is recorded in an individual file
access to the canteen is disallowed except to buy toiletries, as well as receiving money from outside the prison
individual use of a radio, television or other authorised devices is disallowed (maximum of 45 days)
access to the visiting room without partitions is disallowed (maximum of three months)
the prisoner must carry out cleaning work in the prison accommodation (maximum of seven days)
the prisoner must carry out repair work to fix the damage or deterioration they have caused
the prisoner is placed in a disciplinary cell, according to the conditions set out in article 6 (maximum of 45 days). This provision is not applicable to minors.
Fines cannot be imposed. However, all measures can be combined with the requirement to carry out repair work to fix the damage or deterioration caused.
Suspended disciplinary measures can be imposed. These are revoked if the prisoner commits a new offence during the six month suspension period. The two measures are then (imposed simultaneously).
Combining these measures does not mean that the maximum length of the sanction stated by the law is extended.
Measures that have been suspended are declared null and void if the prisoner commits no offences during the suspension period.
Disciplinary measures can be lifted or suspended due to:
religious or national festivals
the prisoner’s good behaviour
Disciplinary offences are investigated
The law states that the officer present at the time of the incident, or who is informed of it, is responsible for reporting it as soon as possible. The incarceration supervisor then prepares a report setting out the accused prisoner’s account, witnesses’ accounts, the circumstances surrounding the incident and information on the prisoner’s character. The warden examines the report and decides whether to carry out additional investigations. They judge whether disciplinary action will be taken.
It is the warden’s responsibility to inform the director of the prison service, or the relevant judicial authority if applicable, of disciplinary measures which have been applied, on a monthly basis. They are entered in a register and recorded in the prisoner’s file. The register of disciplinary sanctions is presented to the administrative and judicial authorities during their visits to the facility.1
The decision to apply a disciplinary sanction must be subject to an adversarial debate
The prisoner appears before the discipline commission. The commission is made up of two members, one of whom is chosen from among prison staff working at detention facilities. The two members are chosen by the director of the prison service. They have an advisory role. (Penitentiary law, article 53).
The prisoner can request assistance from a person of their choice. They present their version of the facts orally or in writing. The warden chairs the discipline commission. They can decide to call upon any person as a witness whose statement they deem useful.
The commission engages a translator or any other person appointed by the chair “whenever possible” if the prisoner does not understand the Arabic language or does not have the capacity to express themselves.1
Prisoners are allowed to be assisted by a lawyer
The discipline commission, chaired by the warden, decides if a sanction is imposed.
Prisoners may appeal against disciplinary sanctions
Rulings regarding disciplinary sanctions are issued and prisoners are notified in writing within five days. They must include the grounds for the ruling and state that it is possible to appeal to the director of the prison service.
The prisoner can appeal the ruling within five days, including the day they are notified. The director of the prison service delivers their ruling within a month, starting from when the appeal is received. Failure to reply within the designated time period is equivalent to a rejection.1
Disciplinary sanctions can be imposed as a collective punishment
The Prisons Act (loi pénitentiaire) prohibits collective disciplinary sanctions. Observers report that, in practice, collective transfers are imposed as security and disciplinary measures.
Solitary confinement can be used as
- security measure
Solitary confinement is decided
by the prison governor
The warden must inform the prison administration about all decisions to place inmates in solitary confinement.
The duration for placement in solitary confinement is limited
yes, 45 days
Isolation in solitary confinement can not exceed 45 days. (Penitentiary law, article 54).
Every decision which relates to extending solitary confinement past one month is a matter for the head of the prison service. The warden and prison doctor’s recommendations are taken into consideration. (Penetentiary Law, article 32).
The president of the disciplinary commission can decide to place a prisoner in solitary confinement as a precautionary measure. This type of confinement cannot last more than 48 hours. It is permitted “on the condition that this is the only way to stop misbehaviour or to maintain order in the prison” (Penitentiary law, article 58).
Minors cannot be placed in solitary confinement.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the abusive isolation of Abdelqader Belliraj. The Belgo-Moroccan has been in prison since 2009, and has been sentenced to life imprisonment under Moroccan law for terrorist acts. According to Belliraj, his sentence was essentially based on a forced confession under torture. His wife, Rachida Hatti, reports that since 2016 he has been locked in his cell for 23 hours out of 24, and denied all contact with his fellow inmates. The prison administration refutes these allegations, claiming that ‘the prisoner, currently in custody in Toulal 2, has been placed in a cell which meets all the necessary health requirements (light, ventilation, etc), and he also exercises his right to a daily walk of one hour, during which he does sporting activities’.
Human Rights Watch has also condemned the abusive isolation of other prisoners, notably Taoufik Bouachrine and Nasser Zefzafi. The prison administration also denies these allegations.
Prisoners in solitary confinement receive regular medical care
A doctor has to visit the prisoner from the moment the confinement begins or “as soon as possible”. The doctor then visits the prisoner at least twice a week (Penitentiary law, article 61). The doctor gives their recommendation on the continuation of the confinement after each medical visit. The doctor can decide to end the solitary confinement (Penitentiary law, article 32).
Solitary confinement takes place in an individual cell adapted for this purpose. The prison administration does not provide details about the material conditions of these cells.
It is not guaranteed that prisoners can maintain family ties during their time in solitary confinement. Isolated prisoners are not allowed visits. The prisoners can write letters but only to their family. Prisoners in solitary confinement maintain their right to freely communicate with their lawyer.
Ali Aarrass is being held in isolation, in spite of the decision on 27 March 2017 by the Committee of the United Nations against torture, which ordered Morocco to put an end to this regime. The Belgo-Moroccan was arrested for the first time in 2006 in Spain at Morocco’s behest, on suspicion of terrorism. He was extradited to Morocco in 2010 where he is serving a 12-year sentence. The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention has been unsuccessfully demanding his release since 2013, after he was tortured in Moroccan prisons.
His sister, Farida Aarrass, has given an account of a visit to her brother in 2017 in Tiflet 2, which is available here.i10/04/2017/ Prison Insider