During the seminar
During the seminar

On 19 and 20 February 2019, the IRZ ,together with the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR), organised a third seminar on the “Humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisons” in Marrakesh, Morocco. The event was held as part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and coordinated by the IRZ between 2017 and 2019.

Two employees of the Berlin prison system provided the IRZ with expert support in the organisation of the seminar:

  • Stefan Tydecks, a psychologist in the admissions department at the Moabit penal institution, and
  • Michael Weise, Head of General Law Enforcement at the Tegel penal institution.

Reolonane Koutane from the DGAPR opened the event by praising the close historical ties between Morocco and Germany, which would be made even stronger by the seminar.

As a result of a reform process, Morocco has gradually abolished the old penal system, starting with the constitution of 1962. Since then, the focus has no longer been exclusively on imprisonment for the protection of society, but on safeguarding the humane treatment of prisoners and their reintegration. The DGAPR is aiming to achieve a new image for penal institutions, with the emphasis on their educational work.

The lectures given at the seminar by the German and Moroccan experts shed light on the legislative history of safeguarding human rights in prisons. In the Moroccan law on the penal system and in the new 2011 constitution, the safeguarding of prisoners’ basic rights is guaranteed. Several institutions set up specifically for this purpose review the respect of human rights in prisons. One of the most important of these is the National Human Rights Council of Morocco, which was reformed in 2018.

As a result of the efforts made by the DGAPR to ensure the continuous improvement of respect for prisoners’ human rights, food supplies have been privatised and the provision of services has also been improved considerably. In addition, an electronic complaints management system has been set up on a national level.

In the German penal system, the treatment mission for prisons is of critical importance. The main objective of the penal system in Germany is reintegration into society. With the aim of releasing prisoners to live a crime-free life, the German experts presented in their lectures measures for relaxing imprisonment conditions, in which certain requirements or safety measures can be determined. The prisoners have no legal claim to these privileges. However, with a positive prognosis, even high-risk offenders can benefit from such privileges in Germany. Terrorists, on the other hand, are excluded from these programs in the German penal system. In Morocco, a strategy for reconciliation with themselves and with religious sources and society is applied for the reintegration of terrorists.

When it comes to accommodating extremist prisoners, attention must be paid to their humane treatment as well as to security concerns. In this respect, the German experts expressed the need for appropriate training measures for prison staff in dealing with this group of prisoners.

During the seminar discussions, the participants pointed out similar experiences in Moroccan and German prisons and were very interested in working out shared solutions to problems. In particular when it comes to release on parole, there are similar requirements for prisoners in both systems. There were also some lively discussions on the design of an open prison. The focus here was on long sentences and the treatment of high-risk offenders.