Universal Periodic Review


First session meeting highlights

8 April 2008 (afternoon)
For use of information media; not an official record

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Morocco this afternoon, during which 54 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

Presenting the national report of Morocco was ABDELOUAHED RADI, Minister of Justice of Morocco, who noted that the preparation of the national report followed a participatory approach involving all stakeholders per the guidelines adopted by the Human Rights Council. The consultations and dialogue through this approach had been constructive to the point of establishing a standing committee on consultations. The approach adopted by Morocco for the promotion and protection of human rights had been achieved through a global approach and through the harmonization of national legislation. Morocco’s will to implement human rights was real; this could be seen in the ratification by Morocco of several international instruments and its cooperation with several human rights mechanisms. Strengthening the process of the promotion and protection of human rights had been marked by the establishment of a national institution on the promotion and protection of human rights. Human rights had also been mainstreamed into all government bodies and an inter-ministerial committee had been created in this regard. In particular, Morocco had lifted its reservations to the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Moreover, the State had recently adhered to the optional protocols to CEDAW, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture.

Several institutions had also been strengthened with the aim of upholding the promotion and protection of human rights; in particular the Ombudsman Office and the Advisory Council for Sahrawi Affairs, among them, the Minister announced. Through the harmonization of domestic legislation a number of new laws had been enacted; in particular a new criminal code, family code and labor code had been promulgated. Amendments had also been made to the code on civil liberties and the press code was also the subject of much debate in the country while bearing in mind the imperative need to respect the freedom of expression. Efforts had also been made by the State to promote the work of human rights defenders throughout the country. The guarantee of a fair trial was the guiding principle of the revised criminal code. As regards the fight against terrorism, Morocco had legislation adopted unanimously by the Parliament in conformity withy international standards. A culture of human rights had been infused into the education system and through the media.

Morocco had also placed great emphasis on the rights of women and children and people with disabilities, he added. The role of women had been promoted in political and public life; currently 37 women were parliamentarians and seven women were members of the Moroccan Government at the ministerial level. Steps were also underway to promote the status of women in rural areas. As to the rights of the child, a programme covering 2006 to 2015 had been undertaken to combat child labor and violence against children. Morocco remained committed to a vast process of transitional justice and, in that regard, had set up a commission on truth, justice and reconciliation. Through these efforts, Morocco had been able to develop public debates on issues of human rights. It was noted that in May 2005 the King of Morocco had established the National Human Development Initiative constituting a development strategy focused on the respect for economic, social and cultural rights. Among other things, this strategy aimed to improve the living conditions of the population. The emergence and development of civil society had led to a wider respect and enjoyment of public freedoms and had made it possible to instill a culture of human rights in the country, the Minister concluded.

Issues raised by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion related to illegal immigration and respecting the human rights of migrants; the objectives of the Government’s policies on the rights of the child and steps taken to adopt national legislation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; steps taken to oppose and combat terrorism, in general, and, in particular through an early warning system; the national budget allocated to gender issues and gender equality in general; steps taken towards introducing the work of the Human Rights Council into the State’s institutional framework; progress in the area of the respect for the rights of women and the respect of the rights of foreigners; domestic violence and the protection of victims of such acts; and efforts to ensure training for magistrates and judges on the rights of women.

Other issues raised during the three-hour dialogue concerned the State’s commission for truth, justice and reconciliation and compensation offered victims of human rights violations through this body; the achievements of the National Human Development Initiative and how it had led to the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground; progress made in the area of religious freedoms; efforts made to provide adequate housing; efforts to protect economic, social and cultural rights, in genera; the various measures adopted with regard to human rights education and training; the strengthening of human rights as enshrined in the Constitution and other national laws and activities; the new press code, freedom of expression and plans of the State to enact a legal definition of libel; and the steps taken by the Government to ensure freedom of speech and freedom of expression, particularly for media personnel, and with respect to reports of censorship and restrictions of the media and several recent cases of prosecution of prominent journalists.

Moreover, issues were highlighted with regard to the revised family code; prison conditions; the consultative council on human rights; the possibility of extending a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council; measures adopted to include in the school curricula human rights education; efforts to set up a standing consultation and dialogue mechanism, as suggested by members of civil society; follow-up and redress to victims of human rights violations; the provision of health services; the State’s withdrawal of reservations to international human rights instruments; efforts in combating impunity; and steps taken by the State under review to enhance human rights education in rural areas. Information was also sought on the State’s needs in terms of technical cooperation, in general.

Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Mauritius, Malaysia, Ghana, Egypt, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Mali, Canada, France, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, Italy, India, the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Jordan, Djibouti, Nigeria, Zambia, Slovenia, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.

Observer States participating in the discussion were Palestine, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Belgium, Sweden, Guinea, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Iran, Benin, Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Latvia, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia, Norway, Australia and Lebanon.

The 24-person delegation of Morocco consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Morocco are Romania, Madagascar and France.

In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Morocco can be found here.

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Morocco on Thursday, 10 April.

When the UPR Working Group continues its work tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. it will review the human rights obligations of Indonesia.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp