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

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

electronic devices

Professionals who enter the prison are searched using the following methods

electronic devices

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

  • firearms
  • 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


Policies for prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation have been implemented. These policies lead to the creation in 2017, of the Moussalaha program, started by a joint effort between the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation, the Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas1, the National Human Rights Council (Conseil national des droits de l’Homme, CNDH) and the Mohammed VI Foundation (la Fondation Mohammed VI). Prisoners sentenced for acts of terrorism or extremism take part in this program. Participants numbered 50 in 2018.2

The prison administration also set up an awareness and information campaign about “tolerance culture and openness towards others”.

  1. Fondation created by King Mohammed VI for teaching and promoting Islamic studies. 

  2. General Delegation for Prison Administration and Rehabilitation “2018 Activity report”, 2019, p. 59 (in Arabic). 

  • The “Musalaha” (Reconciliation) programme aims to deradicalise and reintegrate extremist prisoners. During its 10th annual event, 239 extremist prisoners participated, and 180 were released. Zero cases of re-offending were recorded. The programme has been offered to female prisoners since its 5th edition. This programme is only open to candidates who have shown a willingness to reconsider their radical ideas and who have requested to participate via a reasoned, written application. These requests are examined to ensure that they are not motivated by opportunism, with the sole objective of receiving a pardon. The programme includes several components: religious education, human rights, and a psychological evaluation with video recordings of statements from the friends and family of victims of terrorism.

    / L'Opinion

The prison service keeps record of incidents


Number of escapes


There were 15 escapes in 2017.

/ DGAPR, "Activity report 2018", p. 154.

Number of violent acts against prison staff


/ DGAPR, "Activity report 2018", p. 153.

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).

  • The number of hunger strikes totalled 1,158 in 2021, according to the Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (Observatoire marocain des prisons, OMP). This number has increased from previous years. The primary motives for these strikes are to protest sentences and verdicts (79% of cases) and object to prison conditions (16%).

    / Telquel
  • On 22 December 2022, Reporters Without Borders criticised the imprisonment conditions of the Moroccan journalist Omar Radi at the Tiflet prison.

    Omar Radi considered performing a symbolic hunger strike for Human Rights Day. He informed prison management by letter that he planned to strike for 24 hours starting 9 December at 18.00. Prison management reportedly refused to provide him with food well before the start of his strike. He was also assaulted by a prison officer inside of his cell. The officer allegedly used violent language and confiscated Radi’s entire food supply, which was returned to him two days later infested with vermin.

    / Reporters Without Borders

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

  • medical treatment

  • training

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

  • punishment
  • protection
  • 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.

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.

The penitentiary law states that a prisoner placed in solitary confinement must take a daily walk of one hour (Penitentiary law, article 61).

Solitary confinement can lead to the withdrawal of work (Penitentiary law, article 39).

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.

    / Prison Insider