Morocco – annual report 2020

Participants at the seminar on “Humane treatment of detainees in the Moroccan penitentiary system” in March 2020 in Tangier
Participants at the seminar on “Humane treatment of detainees in the Moroccan penitentiary system” in March 2020 in Tangier

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

Morocco continues to push ahead with the reform process initiated by King Mohamed VI in the wake of the Arab Spring in early 2011. Parliament and the government have been discussing the draft for a revised Criminal Code since 2016 and the draft for a new Code of Criminal Procedure since 2015. Reform objectives include the imposition of alternative punishments and limitations in the application and length of pre-trial detention. However, both legislative proposals have experienced delays. The government is engaged in other long-standing socio-economic reform projects, for example within the framework of the “National Initiative for Human Development” (INDH).

Morocco responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 by introducing a comprehensive lockdown that brought public life to a standstill until September 2020. The government is introducing extensive regulations and investment measures in an attempt to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. The issue of digitalising the Moroccan judiciary came to the fore during this period and has prompted the government to develop suitable reform strategies.

Overall Concept 

Building on the cooperation with Morocco that has existed since 2014, two multi-year projects funded by the Federal Foreign Office began in 2017 on the topics of forensic medicine and reform of the penitentiary system. Both of these projects address important elements of the judicial reform being pursued in Morocco. As a result, both chambers of the Moroccan parliament approved a draft law on the professional code of conduct for forensic medical examiners at the beginning of 2020; drafting of this law had been supported as part of the forensic medicine project that was brought to a successful conclusion in 2019. Key components of the penitentiary system project include the vital training of prison staff according to the principle of “Train the trainer”, resocialisation of inmates and modernisation of the administrative structures within the Moroccan penitentiary authority DGAPR (Délégation générale à l’administration pénitentiaire et à la réinsertion). In addition, IRZ equipped an IT training centre at the Kénitra Prison with computers and printers in close cooperation with DGAPR. Cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Moroccan Ministry of Justice also prioritised aspects of criminal and civil law as well as the topic of “good governance” in judicial administration.

It became necessary to restructure the implementation of the project due to global restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. To ensure that the project objectives were achieved, IRZ, in close coordination with its project partners, therefore switched its measures to virtual formats wherever possible.

Focus of Activity in 2020 

Civil and Commercial Law 

  • Trilateral online exchange of experience with the Tunisian and Moroccan Ministries of Justice on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Online seminar “Alternative sanctions and alternatives to pre-trial detention” with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and the Moroccan General Prosecutor’s Office
  • Seminar “Humane treatment of detainees in the Moroccan penitentiary system” with DGAPR in Tangier
  • Seminar “Vocational, technical and artistic education of inmates” for prison staff, among others, in cooperation with DGAPR in Marrakesh
  • Online seminar “Management of DGAPR prison staff”

Administration of Justice

  • Online seminar “Modernising judicial administration and good governance in the judiciary” together with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Moroccan Ministry of Justice
  • Online seminar “Digitisation of the judiciary” with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and the High Council of the Judiciary
  • Participation by members of the Moroccan Ministry of Justice in the online regional conference “Electronic legal transactions – digitisation of the judiciary” in cooperation with the German Federal Bar
  • Support for the technical library at the Moroccan Ministry of Justice

Project funded by the European Union 

EU Technical Assistance Project: “Assistance technique auprès de la Délégation Générale à l’Administration Pénitentiaire et à la Réinsertion pour appuyer la mise en œuvre des Politiques de réinsertion sociale des détenus et de prévention de la récidive”

Since the end of 2018, IRZ has been involved in the implementation of this 34-month project on the penitentiary system in Morocco under the leadership of DMI Associates from France, which enables excellent exploitation of existing synergies within the bilateral work. The project aims to support the reform of the Moroccan criminal law system and in particular to improve standards in the penitentiary system, resocialisation of prisoners and the prevention of recidivism. The principal beneficiary is the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration in Morocco (DGAPR).

Among the focuses of the project is the issue of university research, which aims to facilitate the establishment of a research consortium involving DGAPR and universities in Morocco. This also included discussions in penitentiary institutions on the practicality of research findings for prison enforcement. A draft contract was then developed with DGAPR that is designed to enable academics to conduct research in correctional facilities

The following results were also achieved:

  • Development of an intake manual for prisoners
  • Preparation of a report on alternative punishments
  • Performance of an audit of the counselling and preparatory services for reintegration
  • Preparation of a report on training needs in the area of social reintegration
  • Identification and compilation of relevant associations in the area of reintegration
  • Preparation of a draft communication strategy and action plan


IRZ plans to continue and to intensify its engagement in the aforementioned subject areas in 2021 and, if possible, also in the areas of civil and commercial law. The penitentiary system project described in more detail above will be extended into 2021. This additional time will be used to hold the “Train the trainer” seminars which were postponed due to the pandemic. The objective is to achieve a multiplier effect and to ensure the project’s long-term impact. In this regard, support will be provided to train detainees in IT topics using the new equipment in the IT training centre.

Furthermore, cooperation with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office will also be broadened in the area of criminal law. At the explicit request of the Moroccan partners, IRZ plans to offer its support in the conception and introduction of alternative punishments. Other priority topics concern the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the judiciary and strategies for digitisation in this area.