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CCDH, a basic leverage in the Field of Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: 1990-2008

Morocco enjoys a privileged place in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law thanks to the efforts made by the Advisory Council on Human Rights (CCDH) since its inception in 1990 and to its continuous work as an advisory institution set up under the authority of His Majesty late Hassan II, may God bless his soul, and His Majesty Mohammed VI, may God assist him.

Upon the royal will to make of Morocco a modern and peace-loving state, respectful of human rights, the CCDH was established by virtue of the Dahir of 20 April 1990, which was a sign of building a modern, democratic and open Morocco.

This creation was followed by the 1992 Constitution which states in its preamble that the Kingdom of Morocco subscribes to the principles, rights and obligations resulting from the charters of the international organizations and reaffirms its attachment to human rights as universally recognized.

His Majesty Mohammed VI has followed the same path since his accession to the throne. He addressed a speech to the CCDH members at their reception at the Royal Palace on December 9 2000, in which he said that given the fact that protecting human rights, freedoms of citizens, communities and organizations and ensuring their exercise, fall under the royal prerogatives, he is committed to promoting human rights and preserving the dignity of the citizen as part of a comprehensive approach to human rights, given that they are powerful leverage for development, and they are interdependent in their political, economic, social and cultural dimensions.

From this perspective, the CCDH creation was an event marking the process of democracy-building, the rule of law and respect for human rights and freedoms to which Morocco has firmly adhered and a cornerstone of this building, particular in view of the responsibilities and tasks assigned to it and its composition which is based on broad representativeness, transparency, integrity and merit.

The CCDH was at that time an essential added value falling within the framework of the policy of openness launched by His Majesty late Hassan II. As a result, a number of political prisoners were released, exiles were pardoned, the fate of many persons, who were subjected to disappearance, were revealed, and human rights institutions were created. All these measures have contributed to consolidate the momentum for the promotion and protection of human rights to which Morocco has adhered thanks to the royal will and constitutional gains in the field of human rights. This is due also to the position of the international human rights standards in our country, to the growing dynamism of civil society in this field, and to the enhancement of mechanisms of respect and protection of human rights and monitoring violations. Thus, the CCDH has played an increasingly leading role thanks to the various tasks assigned to it.

It is necessary to mention first the creation of the Independent Arbitration Commission in charge of compensating victims of disappearance and arbitrary detention, or their rightful claimants. It was an initiative of His Majesty King Mohammed VI dated August 16, 1999, just days after his accession to the throne. This Commission worked for more than four years on developing a clear approach to ensure compensation and equity for persons victims of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention, or their rightful claimants in the event of death. The Commission drew up also advanced rules to ensure reparation, including gender equality and considering the period of detention, as a continuity of the arbitrary placement in custody.

Besides, it is worth mentioning that the Throne Speech given by His Majesty Mohammed VI in 2001 lead to the issuance of Dahir N 1.00.350 on April 10, 2001, on the CCDH reorganization. This Dahir brought important developments in the CCDH organization, operation, responsibilities. Thus, the CCDH was entrusted with preparing an annual report containing a thorough and objective assessment of the situation of human rights in Morocco, the CCDH achievements and future work in the long term and action plan in the short and medium term, as well as the possibility of developing issue-specific reports and annual financial reports, in addition to other broadened prerogatives.

As a show of this new approach, His Majesty King Mohammed VI appointed on December 10, 2002 the CCDH members, based on their careers, dedication, integrity, experience, skill and sacrifice, and their contribution in the field of human rights, as stated by the CCDH President, on the occasion of the 17th plenary session, held in Rabat in March 2003.

The CCDH also played a key role in creating the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER). As a first experience of truth and reconciliation in the Arab-Muslim world, the IER, whose 23-month mandate started from January 7, 2004 to November 30, 2005, looked into the ways to settle the past of gross human rights violations in Morocco and ensure compensation for victims or their rightful claimants. It issued important recommendations on the moralization of public life in Morocco, democratization of government and political bodies, good security governance, and modernization of justice, in order to ensure non-recurrence of violations experienced by Morocco in the past.

The CCDH has spared no effort to fulfill and enrich the missions assigned to it in order to strengthen the legal mechanisms necessary for the preservation and consolidation of democratic gains, support for civil society and full respect of human rights, the expansion of individual and collective freedoms under the rule of law.

Thanks to its continuous and hard work, the CCDH could occupy the place it deserves among other institutions, as an advisory council placed under the authority of His Majesty, as a national body for the promotion and protection of human rights, independent of the Government, Parliament, the judiciary and as a space for thinking and for formulating proposals on human rights.

At the international level, the CCDH could strengthen its position and that of Morocco in the field of human rights. Thus, the CCDH chaired the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. This presidency was renewed following the active participation of the CCDH at the ICC annual session in April 2003. The ICC reiterated its confidence in the person of the CCDH President by re-electing him head of this important international grouping. The CCDH also actively participated in the round table organized on December 10-11, 2003 in Geneva by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the declaration of the Paris Principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.

In the speech given on the occasion of the Throne Day on July 30, 2006, His Majesty the King reaffirmed that Morocco’s sincere commitment to human rights as universally recognized as well as major gains in this field have been recognized internationally, as evidenced by the election of our country in the new United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), and its election as vice-chairman of the HRC on behalf of the African continent.

To strengthen the vital role played by the CCDH in the protection and promotion of human rights, His Majesty the King gave it new missions in the royal speech of January 6, 2006, date of the end of the IER mission and the submission of the report on 50 years of human development. The CCDH was entrusted with monitoring the implementation of the IER recommendations and, as a national, independent and pluralistic institution, defending the interests of Moroccan expatriates by conducting extensive consultations with all concerned and by making an advisory opinion on the creation of a new council for the Moroccan community abroad on the basis of competence, representativeness, credibility and effectiveness.

Based on royal speeches and directives, the IER final report, the report on 50 years of human development, as well as various reports and studies carried out on the promotion and protection of human rights in Morocco, the CCDH has worked to promote the human rights culture, a cornerstone for democracy and modernity. It drew up the Citizen Platform for the Promotion of the Human Rights Culture and a national draft charter of citizenship defining the rights and obligations of citizens and laying the foundation of full, responsible, efficient and dignified citizenship. Also, the CCDH conducts a critical assessment of penal law in terms of its ability to fight against all forms of racism, xenophobia and violence, ensures the harmonization of national laws with international human rights standards and participates in the implementation of the provisions of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), launched by His Majesty, through highlighting the economic, social and cultural rights, in close collaboration and coordination with different stakeholders, including government departments, civil society, academic experts and other international partners.

The CCDH also signed several partnership agreements with various Moroccan ministries such as the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training and Scientific Research, Ministry of the Interior, some national institutions in charge of employment and training. Meanwhile, it entered into partnership agreements with various associations of civil society working in the field of the protection and promotion of human rights or active in human development, particularly as regards the creation of local coordination bodies aiming to ensure the development of the regions affected by past violation at the political and social levels.

We will try in a coming series of articles to highlight the CCDH achievements since its inception to date to make them known on the one hand and enable interested persons to follow up its activities on the other.

By Mohamed Mustapha Raïssouni, CCDH member