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International Seminar on Standards and Practices on Prevention against Torture During Arrest, Hearing and Custody

On Tuesday 20 September 2022, at the Royal Police Institute, in Kenitra, Morocco, the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) organized the international seminar on “Standards and practices on prevention against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during arrest, hearing and custody”.

The organization of this seminar is part of the effective launch of the program of the Partnership Agreement between the CNDH and the DGSN, signed on Wednesday 14 September 2022 in Rabat, Morocco, by Mrs. Amina Bouayach, CNDH Chairperson, and Mr. Abdellatif Hammouchi, Director General of National Security, to promote human rights culture in police internships and training curricula. This agreement also intends to make it a reference and a framing guide for the national police officials in charge of law enforcement.

The opening session of this event was facilitated by Mr. Ahmed Herznni, Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights and former Chairperson of the Advisory Council on Human Rights. Mrs. Amina Bouayach, CNDH Chairperson, Mr. Mohamed Dkhissi, Head of the Judicial Police at the DGSN, Mr. Moulay Hassan Daki, Prosecutor General of the King at the Court of Cassation, Head of the Public Prosecution Office, and representative of the Supreme Council of the Judicial Power, took part in this session.

By organizing this event, stakeholders seek to shed light on best practices related to the implementation of effective legal and procedural guarantees for the prevention of torture and discuss legal and judicial guarantees to prevent torture at the national and international levels. It also aims to raise awareness about the role of monitoring and complaint mechanisms and share their best practices related to management and follow-up.

On this occasion, Mrs. Bouayach, stressed that the partnership between the CNDH and the DGSN is of great significance and unprecedented human rights depth.

It is an integrated strategy that goes beyond the limits of institutional action and proposes initiatives to develop practices that implement human rights standards and preserve dignity in places of deprivation of liberty operating under the national police department.

Mrs. Bouayach considered that training and consolidating respect for human rights in the security functions is a pivotal point in enjoying rights and a highly credible barometer to assess the extent to which human rights are respected at the level of countries.

With regard to the establishment of the national mechanism for the prevention of torture, the CNDH Chairperson stressed that it was a defining moment in the process of building the Rule of law. It was also a fundamental building block to enhance guarantees for respecting human rights and implement their roadmap established by the 2011 Constitution, as an affirmation of breaking with the violations phase and ensuring the Rule of law within the places of deprivation of liberty.

On this occasion, Mrs. Bouayach emphasized the outcome of the mechanism actions, which she described as positive and encouraging. She noted, particularly, the recorded rate between 80% and 90%, in terms of the interaction of prisons, the DGSN or the Royal Gendarmerie with the CNDH recommendations. She also affirmed that the mechanism is preparing follow-up visits for several courts, airports and mental hospitals to measure the implementation of its recommendations. The mechanism plans to raise the number of its visits to 100 within the next two years.

She added that these results are incentives to irreversibly move forward with a view to eliminate everything that would affect human dignity, especially since the goal is to achieve zero tolerance for torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any individual.

For his part, Mr. Abdellatif Hammouchi, DGSN Head, welcomed, in his statement delivered on his behalf by Mr. Dkhisi, the establishment of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture stipulated in Part 4 of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It constitutes an important stage toward the implementation of Morocco's international and constitutional obligations.
He also added that the organization of this scientific forum interprets the firm will to mobilize and coordinate efforts within the framework of effective partnership to prevent torture in all its forms and which all religions reject, national laws criminalize, and universal human rights references condemn.

Mr. Daki confirmed that research conducted by the Public Prosecution regarding allegations of torture indicated that the number of complaints decreased during the last three years. 21 complaints related to allegations of torture were registered in 2020 and the same number in 2021. However, this number decreased to only 7 complaints from 1 January 2022 until the end of August 2022. Judicial investigations were conducted and appropriate decisions were taken in light of that.

Stakeholders, at this seminar, studied the legal and judicial guarantees to prevent torture and mechanisms and procedures for the prevention of torture.

Several national and international actors and experts and representatives of the DGSN, the Royal Gendarmerie, the Supreme Council of the Judicial Authority, the Presidency of the Public Prosecution, the Ministry of Justice, civil society organizations, universities, National Human Rights Institutions, National Mechanisms for the prevention of torture, etc. participated in this seminar.