memorandum by Mr Volontè, rapporteur
In June 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1680 (2009)
on the establishment of a “partner for democracy” status
with the Parliamentary Assembly,Note
which it resolved “to establish a new status for institutional co-operation
with parliaments of non-member states in neighbouring regions wishing
to benefit from the Assembly’s experience in democracy building
and to participate in the political debate on common challenges
which transcend European boundaries” (paragraph 11).
Following the adoption ofResolution 1698 (2009)
on the amendment of various provisions of the Parliamentary
Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, a new Rule 60, setting forth the
conditions and modalities for granting the partner for democracy
status, was inserted in the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.
Rule 60 came into force in January 2010.
3. In particular, Rule 60.2 contains formal political commitments
that the Parliament concerned must undertake when requesting Partner
for Democracy status. Moreover, Rule 60.1 foresees a possibility
for the Assembly, if appropriate, to lay down specific conditions
to be met by the Parliament concerned before or after the status
has been granted.
4. On 22 February 2010, the Speakers of the two Chambers of the
Parliament of Morocco addressed to the President of the Assembly
an official request for partner for democracy status. The Parliament
of Morocco thus became the first parliament to make such a request.
I was appointed rapporteur in June 2010. I see my duty in
this capacity as follows:
verify whether the official request by the Parliament of Morocco
contains the formal commitments foreseen in Rule 60.2;
- to consider whether these commitments correspond to reality
and, as a result, whether the status may be granted;
- to assess whether any specific conditions, to be met by
the Parliament of Morocco before the status is granted, should
be laid down;
- to determine the areas where further reforms are most
needed and which should be in the focus of the review and follow-up
process in the future.
6. In March 2011, I carried out a fact-finding visit to Morocco
and had an opportunity to discuss with various partners the current
state of political developments in the country and the prospects
for the future.
7. Having analysed the letter from the Speakers of the two Chambers
of the Parliament of Morocco to the President of the Assembly, I
have come to the conclusion that their request contains the necessary
political commitments foreseen, and therefore meets the formal criteria
laid down in Rule 60.2.
8. Moreover, during my visit to Morocco, I was able to see that
those political commitments reflect the reality and that the purpose
of the partnership – strengthening democracy, the rule of law and
respect for human rights – is broadly shared in Moroccan political
circles, among state and public officials and in civil society.
9. Against the background of the historic turn towards democracy
across the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East, which was
set in motion by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, it is fair to
say that Morocco is well ahead of all its neighbours in the Mediterranean
as regards its level of democratic development.
10. As other countries of the region take their first steps towards
democracy, Morocco is far from being at square one on this road.
It has well-established political institutions and deep-rooted traditions
of political pluralism, inspired by the universal values promoted
and protected by the Council of Europe.
11. Furthermore, on its way to these values, Morocco has chosen
to rely on the experience of our Organisation – the Council of Europe
– which is recognised internationally as a reference point in these
12. Therefore, in my view, the Parliament of Morocco deserves
to be granted partner for democracy status.
13. At the same time, we all know that a perfect democracy does
not exist. Moroccans are aware that their country needs deep and
courageous reforms in many areas in order to meet the people’s expectations.
It is all the more true now as the people in many countries of the
region have clearly expressed the wish to enjoy fundamental political
and social rights, and to be represented by transparent institutions
which provide fairness, protect dignity and take care of their needs.
14. Partnership for democracy should not be considered as an honorary
award, but as a tool allowing us to work together to push forward
constitutional, political, institutional and legal reforms in the
country, and to make regular assessments of the progress made. Granting
the status would be the beginning, not the end of the process. Our
Moroccan partners are fully aware of that.
15. Accordingly, as the Assembly decides to grant the status,
it is essential to determine the areas where reforms are most needed
and which should be in the focus of the review and follow-up process
in the future.
16. In my view, setting clear objectives for the future would
contribute to the credibility of the partnership for democracy process
by establishing an accountability mechanism. At the same time, it
could develop, in the Parliament of Morocco, a sense of co-ownership
of the process and contribute to increasing its role in the political
and institutional system of Morocco.
17. I have made it clear that partner for democracy status does
not provide immunity from criticism in the Assembly. On the contrary,
it should provide a basis, and create conditions, for the Assembly
to take a more attentive and specific look at areas where the situation
needs to be seriously improved. It is very likely that the country
will be criticised, just in the same way as the member states are
often criticised. The Moroccans should not be afraid of this. The
purpose of such criticism is to help identify shortcomings, to overcome
deficiencies and, ultimately, to strengthen the legitimacy of the
state and its institutions vis-à-vis the people.
information on Morocco
18. The Kingdom of Morocco (commonly referred to as Morocco)
is located in north-west Africa. With a population of nearly 33
million, it is one on the most populous countries of the Southern
Mediterranean. It is a part of the Maghreb region, together with
Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya, with whom it shares cultural, historical,
and linguistic ties. It also administers the disputed region of
the Western Sahara.
19. Morocco is a de jure constitutional
monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco enjoys vast
executive powers and plays a key political role in the country.
He is also the Commander of the Faithful (le
Commandeur des croyants). Since Mohammed VI came to the
throne in 1999, the country has embarked on a process of reform
aimed at building a modern and democratic society.
20. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative
power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament,
the House of Representatives (Lower House), and the House of Councillors
(Upper House). The bicameral system was introduced by a constitutional
reform in 1996.
21. The House of Representatives has 325 members elected for a
five-year term, 295 elected in multi-seat constituencies and 30
in national lists consisting only of women.
22. The House of Councillors has 270 members elected for a nine-year
term, elected by local councils (162 seats), professional chambers
(91 seats) and wage earners (27 seats).
23. The Moroccan Parliament’s powers, though limited, were consolidated
under the 1992 and 1996 constitutional revisions and include budgetary
matters, approving bills, questioning ministers, and establishing ad
hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate the government’s actions.
The House of Representatives may dissolve the government through
a vote of no confidence.
24. Morocco has had a multi-party system since independence in
1956. It has a multiple experience – rather unique in the region
– of democratic change of power resulting from competitive elections.
About 20 parties are currently represented in the Parliament.
25. The last elections to the House of Representatives were held
in 2007 and the next are due in 2012. Elections are widely regarded
as mostly free and fair.
26. Morocco’s human rights record has considerably improved since
the repressive “Years of Lead” (Les Années
de Plomb) under King Hassan II’s reign (1961–1999), but
there are still complaints about abuses of power. Most recently,
there were reports of mistreatment of peaceful demonstrators by
the police in the city of Casablanca (13 March 2011), where dozens
27. Freedom of the press is relatively good compared with most
other North African and Middle Eastern countries, though many journalists
are thought to practice self-censorship. However, there are some limitations:
questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy is a taboo, the debate
on political Islam is severely restricted and it is illegal to question
the kingdom’s “territorial integrity”, for example the annexation
of the Western Sahara.
28. Government repression of political dissent has dropped sharply
since the mid-1990s. The previous decades are described as the “Years
of Lead”, where systematic and serious human rights abuses, such
as forced disappearances, killings of government opponents and secret
internment camps, such as Tazmamart, were a common feature.
29. To examine the abuses committed during that period, Mohammed
VI set up an Equity and Reconciliation Commission (Instance Equité et Reconciliation, IER),
which aimed to collect statements from the victims and their relatives,
investigate the crimes committed, rehabilitate the victims and pay
compensation for state outrages against them. According to estimates
by the IER, 528 persons were killed during Hassan II’s reign in both
judicial and extrajudicial executions.
30. The IER presented its final report to the King in December
2005. The former President of the IER, Mr Driss Benzekri, held an
exchange of views with the Political Affairs Committee in January
2006. The work of the IER has been welcomed internationally as an
example to the Arab world. However, most recommendations made by
the IER in order to prevent any possibility of a repetition of crimes
have yet to be implemented.
31. There are also persistent allegations of violence against
Sahrawi pro-independence and pro-Polisario demonstrators in Western
Sahara, considered by Morocco as its Southern Provinces. Morocco
has also been accused of detaining Sahrawi independentists as prisoners
32. Freedom of religion is generally observed, with some limitations.
Although Islam is the official state religion, Moroccans are allowed
to practise other faiths, but it is illegal for Muslims to renounce
Islam. Therefore, restrictions apply to Christian proselytising.
Political activities under the aegis of Islam are also restricted
by the state. There still exists a Moroccan Jewish community, although
most Jews emigrated in the years following the creation of Israel
in 1948. On the contrary, according to my contacts, there is no
local Christian community.
33. In 2005, the Parliament of Morocco took steps to improve the
status of women and children, and passed a new family law (Mudawanat al Asra – Family Code),
which is considered as very progressive by regional standards. As
regards women’s political participation, in addition to being candidates
in mixed electoral lists, women have a national list in parliamentary
elections that allow them at least 10% of the seats. In parallel,
a national observatory to fight violence against women has been
34. Though capital punishment is still not abolished in law in
Morocco, the country has implemented a de facto moratorium
on the death penalty since 1993. A total of 198 people were sentenced
to death between 1956 and 1993, leaving aside the question of extrajudicial
executions (see above). There has been only one execution since
1982: in 1993.
3 Morocco and the
Council of Europe
35. Morocco is considered to be the closest neighbour
of Europe in the Mediterranean region – in every sense of the word.
Geographically, only 14 kilometres of the Strait of Gibraltar separate
it from European soil.
36. Historically, the destinies of Europeans and Moroccans have
been closely linked for many centuries. Culturally, the mutual influence
and cross-fertilisation have been important.
37. Last but not least, also politically, Morocco has been close
to the political traditions and practices which most Europeans share
and value as fundamental principles. Morocco’s ambition is to serve
as an example of democratic transition and to share its experience
with other countries.
38. As democratic changes are now coming to the Mediterranean
region, the Moroccans stress that their country made this choice
many years ago and that it has tried to promote it at the regional
level – sometimes at a high price and without any recognition from
39. Recently, however, this leading position of Morocco in the
field of political reform was recognised by the European Union.
It is the only country to enjoy, since 2007, the “advanced status”
(statut avancé) with the European
Union, which provides for an advanced political partnership.
40. Morocco is also the leader, among the countries of the Mediterranean,
as regards co-operation with the Council of Europe. It is a member
state of the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement
(EUR-OPA) (since 1995) and participates in the European Commission
for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) (since 2007).
41. Morocco was the first non-European country to join the North-South
Centre (since 2009) and the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport
42. Morocco also enjoys observer status with the European Pharmacopoeia
(since 1997). In 2010, Morocco was invited to accede to the Pompidou
Group (partial agreement against drugs abuse and trafficking).
43. As far as Council of Europe conventions are concerned, Morocco
is a Party only to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European
Wildlife and Natural Habitats (ETS No. 104) (since 2001).
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has invited
Morocco to accede to several conventions, namely:
- the European Convention on Information
on Foreign Law (ETS No. 62) and its Additional Protocol on Criminal
Law (ETS No. 97) (extension of the system of international mutual
assistance to the field of criminal law and procedure);
- the European Agreement concerning Programme Exchanges
by means of Television Films (ETS No. 27);
- the European Agreement on the Protection of Television
Broadcasts (ETS No. 34);
- the European Agreement for the Prevention of Broadcasts
transmitted from Stations outside National Territories (ETS No.
- the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological
Heritage (ETS No. 66).
45. The Council of Europe should take co-operation forward, subject
to specific requests from the Moroccan authorities. Emphasis should
be put on certain key conventions open to non-European non-member
states, in the fields of the fight against corruption, cybercrime,
human trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, financing of
terrorism and money laundering.
46. Considering that an efficient and independent justice system
is a prerequisite for successful action against organised crime,
the Council of Europe should also encourage co-operation in the
judicial reform area.
47. I will further develop areas of priority for future co-operation
between the Council of Europe and Morocco in the following chapters.
4 Statutory requirements
for Partner for Democracy status: state of play
48. As mentioned above, my main task as rapporteur is
to assess whether the Parliament of Morocco fulfils the criteria
for the status of Partner for Democracy.
I recall that, in accordance with Rule 60.2, any formal request
for Partner for Democracy status shall contain the following political
- an explicit reference
to the aspiration of the parliament to embrace the values of the
Council of Europe, which are pluralist and gender parity-based democracy,
the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- a commitment to act to abolish the death penalty and to
encourage the competent authorities to introduce a moratorium on
- a statement on the intention of the parliament to make
use of the Assembly’s experience, as well as the expertise of the
Venice Commission, in its institutional and legislative work;
- a commitment to organise free and fair elections in compliance
with relevant international standards;
- a commitment to encourage balanced participation of women
and men in public and political life;
- a commitment to encourage the competent authorities to
become party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions and partial
agreements which are open for signature and ratification by non-member
states, in particular those dealing with human rights, the rule
of law and democracy issues;
- an obligation to inform the Assembly regularly on the
state of progress in implementing Council of Europe principles.
50. In their joint letter of 22 February 2010 (see Appendix),
the Presidents of the two Chambers of the Parliament of Morocco
clearly undertook those political commitments as required by Rule 60.2.
In particular, with regard to fundamental values, they stated
“The Parliament which
we represent shares the same values as the Council of Europe, namely
pluralist and gender parity-based democracy, the rule of law and
the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
52. During my visit to Morocco, this statement was repeatedly
and convincingly confirmed by the two Speakers, as well as by all
the members of the Parliament whom I met.
With regard to the death penalty, the letter states:
“We are continuing our efforts
to raise the awareness of the public authorities and the main players in
politics and civil society of the need to make progress in the
discussion of issues relating to the death penalty and will continue
to encourage the authorities concerned to maintain the de facto moratorium
that has been established on executions of the death penalty since
54. In all my contacts with Moroccan interlocutors, I strongly
emphasised the principled position of the Assembly, and of the Council
of Europe as a whole, on the abolition of the death penalty. I also
called on the Moroccan partners to find ways to officialise the de facto moratorium before the death
penalty is abolished in law.
55. I was able to see that there is a genuine debate on this issue,
both in the Parliament and in society. I heard arguments both in
favour of abolition – including in the framework of the ongoing
revision of the Criminal Code – and in favour of keeping it in law.
It has to be stressed that the proponents of the latter option, representatives
of the Justice and Development Party(Islamic
opposition party), do not argue for the actual implementation of
the death penalty, but for keeping it in the legislation on the
basis of Islamic values. They do not oppose the moratorium on the
56. My impression is that, even if a considerable part of the
political establishment supports abolition, they are not yet ready
to take resolute steps in this direction, as they believe that more
time is needed to prepare public opinion. Public and political debate
on this issue should therefore be broadened. Discussions between the
Moroccan Parliament and the Assembly would, in my view, contribute
57. As far as the facts are concerned, the last execution took
place 18 years ago, in 1993, and the previous one had taken place
in 1982 (leaving aside the issue of extrajudicial killings mentioned
also above). The death penalty being on the books, the courts in
Morocco continue to pass death penalty sentences. However, the King
systematically refuses to enact these sentences, which are commuted
into life imprisonment.
With regard to the use of the Council of Europe experience,
the request contains the following statement:
“We intend to base our institutional and legislative work
on the experience of the Assembly and of the European Commission
for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), bearing in mind that
Morocco has been a member of the Venice Commission since 2007.”
59. I discussed, both at the Parliament and with representatives
of the executive, the areas of legislative work where such experience,
and the contribution of the Venice Commission, would be useful.
At the parliamentary level, I felt a genuine interest on the part
of the Moroccans to make full use of the possibilities which such
60. This is all the more important if one takes into account the
statement made by King Mohammed VI on 9 March 2011 announcing a
future constitutional reform in the country. The appointment of
Mr Abdeltif Menouni, member of the Venice Commission, and of Mr
Abdelaziz Lamghari, his substitute, respectively as Chair and member
of the ad hoc commission in charge of preparing the constitutional
reform creates good opportunities for co-operation between the two
bodies. The Moroccan side should be encouraged to fully use the
potential of the accumulated experience of the Venice Commission.
61. Moreover, the Venice Commission, with its internationally
recognised legal expertise, could provide a valuable contribution
to finalising the bills under preparation, for instance, in the
framework of the reform of the judiciary.
62. I also stressed that drafting laws and signing international
conventions is only the first step, and that effective implementation
is of key importance. The Parliament should play a more active role
in ensuring that legal acts are actually implemented. A periodical
review of the implementation of reforms by our Assembly could become
an essential tool in carrying out the programme of reforms.
As regards elections, the Moroccan Parliament has committed
“continuing our efforts
to raise the awareness of the public authorities and politicians
so that favourable conditions can be established for the holding
of free, fair and transparent elections.”
64. In this context, I stressed the importance that the Assembly
pays to free and fair elections as a crucial element of democracy.
I also referred to the Assembly’s experience and interest in observing
elections in member, observer and partner states, and I further
asked about the possibility of inviting the Assembly to observe
parliamentary elections starting from 2012.
With regard to gender equality in politics, the Parliament
has committed itself to:
the balanced participation of women and men in public life and politics.”
66. I was able to see that there is an awareness of the gender
dimension at party level and in public administrations. As mentioned
above, women constitute at least 10% of the Parliament thanks to
a national list comprising only women. In addition, many parties
have recently increased the number of women on their electoral lists
and promoted women to key positions at national, regional and local
levels. Obviously, these efforts must continue. Currently, women
have 10.5% of seats in the lower Chamber of the Parliament, but
only 2.2% in the upper Chamber.
With regard to Council of Europe conventions, the Moroccan
Parliament has made a commitment to:
the authorities concerned to accede to relevant Council of Europe
conventions and partial agreements that can be signed and ratified
by non-member states, in particular those dealing with human rights,
the rule of law and democracy …”
68. I welcomed the interest expressed recently by the Moroccan
authorities in Morocco becoming party to a number of Council of
Europe conventions, and I referred to a visit under preparation
of a delegation of Council of Europe officials with the aim of discussing
with the authorities practical steps in order for Morocco to step
up its participation in conventions of our Organisation. This visit
finally took place from 28 to 30 March 2011.
69. I further stressed the role of a Parliament with regard to
concluding and implementing international treaties and encouraged
an active involvement of the Parliament of Morocco in following
and speeding up this process. I also referred to the need for capacity-building
for the proper implementation of conventions and encouraged a closer
“triangular co-operation” (Council of Europe–European Union–Morocco)
in this matter.
70. Finally, as concerns accountability, the Moroccan Parliament
made the commitment “to inform the Assembly regularly on progress
made in implementing Council of Europe principles in our country”.
71. In this context, I recalled the importance of a periodical
parliamentary review of the progress made in the implementation
of reforms in the areas where the situation needs improvement. Obviously,
our Assembly would be most interested in the progress achieved in
the fields related to democracy, respect of human rights and the
rule of law.
5 Need for further
72. As demonstrated in the previous chapter, the Parliament
of Morocco meets, in my view, the criteria for being granted Partner
of Democracy status with our Assembly. This does not, however, mean
that Morocco has achieved perfection in building democracy and the
rule of law. On the contrary, much remains to be done.
73. I recall that, in the past, the Assembly has many times drawn
attention to a serious democratic deficit in the Southern Mediterranean,
and stressed that there cannot be sustainable stability and prosperity
without democracy and the rule of law.
74. We know from our European experience that democracy is never
perfect and cannot be taken as granted once and for all. It is a
process which needs to be constantly adapted to the rapidly evolving
reality and to be ready to face new challenges. The strength of
a true democracy is measured by its capacity to implement reforms
in order to meet the changing needs of the people.
75. Morocco launched in the mid-1990s and 2000s a series of reforms
aimed at building a modern and democratic state. However, according
to many analysts, the pace of those reforms has slowed down and
needs a new political impetus.
76. During my contacts, I was able to witness that there is a
common understanding, among representatives of the political establishment,
state officials and public figures of Morocco, that additional efforts
are needed in order to speed up reforms and make further progress
towards more democracy, better protection of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and enhanced rule of law.
77. Moreover, there is a strong demand for further reforms from
civil society activists and from parts of the population, as was
shown by mass demonstrations on 20 February 2011 and subsequently.
78. Some recent developments could be seen as positive steps in
that direction. For instance, mechanisms for the protection of human
rights have been upgraded with the establishment of the National
Council for Human Rights, which replaces the former Consultative
Council, and with the reform of the institute of Mediator (formerly Divan Al Madhalim).
79. Morocco has pursued a policy of regionalisation which aims
to achieve a better governance and democracy at regional level.
80. A new consultative institution, the Social and Economic Council,
has recently been established in order to provide an additional
channel of representation of, and of harmonisation between, the
interests of various groups of society.
81. As far as the rule of law is concerned, a vast reform of the
legal system has been in preparation for several years. I was informed
that a package of more than 20 draft laws, including on the status
of the judiciary, on the competences of the Ministry of Justice,
as well as on codes of civil and criminal procedures, is now being considered
in the government.
82. On 9 March 2011, King Mohammed VI took a new major step in
the reform process. He launched the preparation for a broad constitutional
revision aimed at consolidating the rule of law and the democratic institutions
and at better protecting individual and collective rights. The reform
should, inter alia, implement
the recommendations made by IER, consolidate the separation of powers,
including by guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary, and
strengthen the role of the Parliament and of political parties.
83. I consider these developments as particularly promising and
creating conditions for fruitful co-operation between Morocco and
the Council of Europe. Our Organisation, with its experience in
democratic transition, is well suited to providing its competence
and advice in designing and implementing constitutional and legal reforms.
Our Moroccan colleagues should be encouraged to fully use these
assets of the Council of Europe.
84. As I stressed before, the Partner for Democracy status should
not be considered as an honorary title granted once and for all.
It is a tool which should encourage reforms to improve the state
of democracy. I believe that it would be very timely to grant it
to the Parliament of Morocco, the country which has embarked on
a process of consolidating its democratic institutions and constitutional
and legal framework.
85. At the same time, it would be useful to identify areas where
our Moroccan partners should make additional efforts to improve
the situation and be more in line with international standards.
86. In particular, the constitutional reform announced by the
King is a cornerstone for further democratisation. The Venice Commission
is a natural partner of Morocco, its member country, in this process. The
Parliament should encourage and facilitate co-operation between
the ad hoc commission on constitutional reform and the Venice Commission.
87. The ongoing justice reform is a key element for strengthening
the rule of law. It needs strong political support, including from
the Parliament, which should follow up the process.
88. Other areas where progress is much needed include the fight
against corruption, freedom of the media, freedom of association,
implementation of the Family Code and protection of the rights of
women and children.
89. The situation in these fields should be followed up regularly
(for instance every six months) by means of exchanges of views with
the Moroccan partners at the Political Affairs Committee level.
Our committee should appoint a rapporteur to follow up developments
in Morocco, including by making fact-finding visits to the country.
In addition, the Assembly should review the progress made in these
areas with a new report, to be prepared after a given period of
time (for instance two years). That would increase the sense of
purpose of the partnership, introduce a degree of accountability
of the partner Parliament and contribute to raising its role and responsibility
in the political process in the country.
More specifically, the following elements could be taken into
account when we assess the progress made by Morocco in pursuing
the aims of the partnership:
free and fair elections;
- enhancing public interest in, and awareness of, the democratic
process, as well as ensuring a higher level of participation in
- strengthening public monitoring of elections by independent
observers, including strengthening the capacities of domestic observer
- involving and consulting civil society organisations in
legislative and other decision-making processes;
- ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in political
and public life;
- strengthening local and regional democracy;
- fighting corruption;
- implementing justice reform with a view to ensuring the
independence and impartiality of the judiciary;
- adhering to and effectively implementing relevant international
instruments in the field of human rights, including full co-operation
with United Nations’ special mechanisms and implementation of the
United Nations Universal Periodic Review recommendations;
- providing better training of judges, prison staff and
law-enforcement agents as regards respect of international human
- preventing torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
of persons deprived of their liberty; fighting impunity for crimes
of torture and ill-treatment;
- improving conditions of detention, in line with the United
Nations prison-related standards and norms;
- fully implementing the recommendations of the Equity and
Reconciliation Commission (IER);
- fighting racism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination;
- ensuring full respect for freedom of religion and belief;
- promoting freedom of expression and media independence
and plurality; removing censorship; introducing a new Code of the
Press that effectively guarantees press freedom;
- promoting freedom of association and of peaceful assembly;
ensuring strict implementation of the law on associations;
- fighting all forms of discrimination (in law and in practice)
against women; ensuring effective legal equality between women and
men as regards inter-religious marriages; fighting all forms of
gender- based violence; promoting equal opportunities for women
- fully implementing and further improving the Family Code;
- promoting public dialogue with a view to removing the
death penalty from the penal code and, in the meantime, ensuring
respect for the de facto moratorium
on executions that has been established since 1993.
91. Obviously, when assessing the implementation of the partnership,
we should also monitor the progress made in those areas which are
referred to in Rule 60.2. insofar as they are not already mentioned
92. In addition, once the Assembly grants Partner for Democracy
status to the Parliament of Morocco, it will have statutory grounds
to follow up more closely, and if appropriate, to prepare specific
reports on various aspects of the situation in that country.
93. At this point, I already see a matter for particular attention
of our colleagues at the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women
and Men: unlike the Moroccan men who may marry women of any faith,
Moroccan women are only allowed to marry Muslims; otherwise, the
marriage is not recognised by law.
6 Question of Western
94. In the context of the request of the Parliament of
Morocco to be granted Partner for Democracy status, several colleagues
have already raised, and other colleagues may wish to raise, the
issue of the Western Sahara.
95. I believe that the question of Western Sahara, as such, is
not an issue for this report, and should not be used as an obstacle
for, or be linked by any kind of conditionality with, the decision
of the Assembly with regard to the status.
96. Western Sahara is an issue dealt with in the framework of
the United Nations, in accordance with relevant resolutions of the
Security Council. The last one, Resolution 1979 adopted on 27 April
2011, calls upon the parties “to continue negotiations under the
auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good
faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent
developments, with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually
acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of
the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent
with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations”.
The Council of Europe has no specific competence in this issue,
but clearly supports the efforts by the United Nations. This position
is contained in the Assembly Resolution
on the situation in Western Sahara. At the same time,
I take note that our colleague, Ms Maury Pasquier, has recently
tabled a motion for a resolution on parliamentary contribution to
solving the Western Sahara conflict.Note
I also signed it. I believe that this
motion, if referred to our committee, would constitute an appropriate
framework for dealing with this issue.
98. Clearly, the issue of Western Sahara has an important human
rights dimension (namely rights of refugees and displaced persons,
conditions of detention, political rights, humanitarian situation,
etc.), by which the Assembly should feel concerned. Granting Partner
for Democracy status to the Parliament of Morocco will strengthen,
not weaken, the capacity of the Assembly to follow these aspects
more closely and on a more solid institutional basis, as appropriate,
in the context of specific reports.
99. In my view, the Parliament of Morocco meets the criteria
laid down in Rule 60 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure and should
be granted Partner for Democracy status.
100. At the same time, reforms in the country need additional political
impetus and the Parliament of Morocco should more actively contribute
to providing such impetus. Granting the status should be seen as
an encouragement for the Parliament to play a more prominent role
in the process of reforms.
101. The draft resolution with a favourable view on the request
for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly
from the Parliament of Morocco contains a list of priority areas
where further progress is expected.
102. The Assembly should review, within two years at the latest,
the progress achieved by the Parliament of Morocco in implementing
the aims of the partnership, with particular attention to the priority
areas listed in the resolution. In the meantime, the Political Affairs
Committee should follow up developments in Morocco both through
a regular dialogue with the Moroccan Partner for Democracy delegation
in the Assembly and by fact-finding visits of a rapporteur.
103. The Parliament of Morocco would acquire Partner for Democracy
status as from the moment of the adoption of the resolution by the
104. In accordance with Rule 60.3, and taking into account the
size of the population and the political diversity of Morocco, its
Parliament should be allocated six seats of representatives and
six seats of substitutes. Furthermore, in accordance with Rule 60.4,
the Partner for Democracy delegation shall be so composed as to ensure
a fair representation of the political parties or groups present
in the Parliament, and of the two houses of the Parliament. It shall
include at least the same percentage of the under-represented sex
as is present in the Parliament and in any case one representative
of each sex.