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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Kingdom of Morocco

Cases of excessive force by police and torture in custody continue to occur. A number of the protesters detained in recent years have reported being beaten and injured during arrest, and some have been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement while awaiting trial. Prisons often suffer from overcrowding

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Morocco

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Morocco.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Morocco

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 July 2021]


Reports of torture have declined over the last several years, although Moroccan government institutions and NGOs continued to receive reports about the mistreatment of individuals in official custody. Reports of mistreatment occurred most frequently in pretrial detention. There were also accusations that security officials subjected Western Sahara proindependence protesters to degrading treatment during or following demonstrations or protests calling for the release of alleged political prisoners.


According to media, the Marrakech branch of the auxiliary forces suspended two officers after they appeared in a video violently arresting a suspect on May 6.

Pretrial Detention: Although the government claimed that authorities generally brought accused persons to trial within two months, prosecutors may request as many as five additional two-month extensions of pretrial detention. Pretrial detentions can last as long as one year. Government officials attributed delays to the large backlog of cases in the justice system. The government stated that a variety of factors contributed to this backlog, including a lack of resources devoted to the justice system, both human and infrastructure; the lack of plea bargaining as an option for prosecutors, lengthening the amount of time to process cases on average; the rare use of mediation and other out-of-court settlement mechanisms allowed by law; and the absence of legal authority for alternative sentencing. The government reported that, as of May, approximately 6.5 percent of detainees were in pretrial detention awaiting their first trial. In some cases detainees received a sentence shorter than the time they spent in pretrial detention, particularly for misdemeanors.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Cases of excessive force by police and torture in custody continue to occur. A number of the protesters detained in recent years have reported being beaten and injured during arrest, and some have been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement while awaiting trial. Prisons often suffer from overcrowding.

Moroccan police arrest and torture disabled minor

Sahara Press Service SPS, El Aaiun (Occupied Territories), 7 May 2016

[accessed 14 August 2016]

Moroccan police arrested and tortured Thursday disabled Saharawi minor, according to the Ministry of the Occupied Territories and Community Abroad.

The Moroccan forces beat up last night minor Jalil Eabeilil who is disabled, said the same sources.

The Saharawi minor had been beaten by Moroccan settlers in a general avenue simply for touching a motorcycle exposed to sale in the street.

Deputy Prosecutor Decorated for Denouncing Torture

Morocco World News, Rabat, 26 May 2016

[accessed 14 August 2015]

Abdelfattah Sabri, Deputy Public Prosecutor for the court of Fez, was decorated for his courage to denounce torture at a police station in Fez.

According to EFE, Abdellatif Sabri had discovered objects of torture in a surprise visit to the police station of Fez. Signs of torture, violence and physical abuse were also discovered on the faces and bodies of detainees held in the same police station. Right after the incident, Abdellatif Sabri decided to open an investigation into the matter to pinpoint the perpetrators.

Amnesty International warns over torture practice in Morocco

Paul Schemm, The Associated Press AP, Rabat, Morocco, 19 May 2015

[accessed 14 August 2015]

Moroccan authorities still use torture widely despite a ban on the practice, the Amnesty International rights group said in a report Tuesday documenting the abuse.

Despite the ban and statements against torture by King Mohammed VI, law enforcement authorities still abuse protesters, rape detainees with objects and beat confessions out of suspects, it said, detailing 173 cases of abuse and torture since 2010.

Those accusing the police of torture are now being prosecuted for slander and defamation to discourage them from speaking out, the report said.

Since 2014, eight people have been charged for allegedly giving false allegations of torture, including activist Ouafa Charaf, who was sentenced to a year in prison in August for accusing the police of torture. Her sentence was doubled in October when she appealed.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


POLICE CONDUCT, TORTURE, AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM - After visiting Morocco and Western Sahara in December 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded, “The Moroccan criminal judicial system relies heavily on confessions as the main evidence to support conviction. Complaints received by the Working Group indicate the use of torture by State officials to obtain evidence or confessions during initial questioning … Courts and prosecutors do not comply with their obligation to initiate an ex officio investigation whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that a confession has been obtained through the use of torture and ill-treatment.” The WGAD said authorities had allowed it to visit the places of detention it had requested, and to interview detainees of its choice in private.

Activists jailed for reporting torture must be released immediately

Amnesty International, Issue: Activists Torture And Ill-treatment; Country: Morocco; Region: Middle East And North Africa; Campaigns: Stop Torture 14 August 2014

[accessed 15 September 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

Human rights and political activist Wafae Charaf was sentenced to a year in prison and a 1000 MAD fine (approximately USD 120) on Tuesday for allegedly falsely reporting being abducted and tortured by unknown persons in April this year.

The court also ordered her to pay 50,000 MAD (approximately USD 6,000) in compensation to Morocco’s police force for slander, although she did not accuse them.

SECOND CONVICTION - On 23 July 2014, 22-year old Oussama Housne, also a member of AMDH in Casablanca, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for an alleged false torture report and slander. He was ordered to pay 100,000 MAD (approximately USD 12,000) in compensation to Morocco’s police force for slander. He is currently detained in Oukacha Local Prison in Casablanca.

He had reported being abducted and tortured by unknown individuals as he was leaving a protest in solidarity with detained activists on 2 May 2014. He said the men burned him with a heated metal rod and raped him with their fingers.

Burned, Beaten, and Electrocuted: One Survivor’s Shocking Story of Torture in Morocco

Amnesty International, 21 Aug 2014

[accessed 15 September 2014]

In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.

Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak. Ali Aarrass with his family (Photo Credit: Private). Ali Aarrass with his family (Photo Credit: Private).

Ali was then formally arrested by the Moroccan authorities and transferred to Salé II prison. The other inmates expressed shock at the scars of torture on Ali’s body, as well as his traumatized state of mind when he arrived.

Moroccan court sentences activist to prison, rejecting claims of torture by police

The Associated Press AP, Rabat, 12 August 2014

[accessed 12 August 2014]

A Moroccan court has sentenced a human rights activist convicted of falsely claiming she was tortured by police to one year in prison.   Ouafa Charaf was also fined 4,500 euros ($6,000) by the court Tuesday, the second time in recent weeks that a human rights activist was convicted on similar charges.   Charaf couldn't prove her claims of police involvement, which authorities denied.

Amnesty urges Morocco to end 'total impunity' for torture

Agence France-Presse AFP, 13 May 2014

[accessed 14 May 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

Amnesty International on Tuesday said perpetrators of torture enjoy almost "total impunity" in Morocco and Western Sahara, calling for an end to the practise, while acknowledging that it had become less frequent.

It said that, despite being explicitly criminalised since 2006 and prohibited by the new 2011 constitution, torture continues in Morocco, with perpetrators enjoying "virtual total impunity" and judges rarely investigating reports of torture.   "The resulting climate of impunity cancels out the dissuasive power of Morocco's anti-torture legislation," Amnesty said.   The government rejected the charges, insisting that judicial procedures had been strengthened, that the justice ministry was ready to investigate any claims of torture and that new reforms were planned that would see police interrogations recorded.

But Amnesty cited three specific cases in which detainees signed "confessions" after being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment in police custody.   One was Ali Aarass, a Belgian-Moroccan extradited from Spain in 2010. He was jailed for 12 years on "terrorism" charges, despite documentation that he was repeatedly tortured and claims that his "confession," the main evidence against him, was obtained through torture.   And in Western Sahara, one of six Sahrawis arrested during a pro-independence demonstration last year, claims he was threatened with rape and forced to sign a "confession" that he was prevented from reading.    He and his co-defendants, who were bailed in October after five months in pre-trial detention, risk up to 10 years in prison, accused of violence against public officials and participating in an armed gathering.

Morocco/Western Sahara: Investigate alleged torture of six detained Sahrawis

Amnesty International AI, 16 May 2013

[accessed 3 Feb 2014]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

[accessed 31 July 2017]

 “Reports that the Moroccan authorities subjected these six detainees – including a child – to torture and other ill-treatment to extract ‘confessions’ are deeply disturbing. The allegations must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Amnesty International fears that the decision to re-arrest El Hussein Bah three days after his release on bail was in retaliation for him speaking out about his alleged torture.   During his short release, the 17-year-old told Amnesty International that during his initial detention, police tortured him, threatened him with rape, and forced him to sign papers including a “confession” which he was not allowed to read.   He alleged that police officers pressed a urine-soaked sponge against his face and pulled his trousers off before threatening him with rape. During his interrogation, he was beaten while kept in a position known as the “roast chicken” – where he was suspended from his knees, with his wrists tied over his legs.   All six detainees told the investigative judge that they had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated and that their “confessions” were extracted under torture in police custody. El Hussein Bah reported hearing other detainees being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in separate cells while in police custody, and later noticing their visible bruising, handcuff marks and swollen joints.

Moroccan Courts Use 'Dubious Confessions'

Selah Hennessy, Human Rights Watch HRW,London, 21 June 2013

[accessed 22 June 2013]

Courts in Morocco are convicting defendants based on confessions that the accused say were obtained by torture or were falsified by police, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said Friday.   One man told Human Rights Watch how he had been refused access to a lawyer and was told he would be beaten to death if he did not sign a confession.   He says his body could not take any more torture and so he told them: “If you want me just to sign, here is my signature.”

Moroccan law criminalizes torture and prohibits courts from using statements obtained under “violence or coercion.”   But Alrifai says the Human Rights Watch investigation shows that judges ignore complaints made by the defendants over alleged ill treatment.   “We are also seeing a judiciary, a set of judges, that do not even question allegations given to them during the procedures. So they just blindly follow the reports that come with the defendants from the police stations, which are often erroneous or are accusations extracted under torture,” Alrifai said.

Morocco/Western Sahara: Convicted Sahrawis must receive fair trials in civilian courts

Amnesty International News, 18 February 2013

[accessed 19 February 2013]

[accessed 28 August 2016]

[accessed 31 July 2017]

The Moroccan authorities must use civilian courts to give fair retrials to 25 Sahrawis and fully investigate their allegations of torture, Amnesty International said today after a military court handed them long prison sentences.

The convictions relate to violence during and after the Moroccan security forces’ dismantling of the Gdim Izik protest camp in November 2010, during which 11 members of the security forces and two Sahrawis were killed.

“It is disturbing that the authorities have also ignored the Sahrawi defendants’ allegations of torture and coerced confessions.”

The defendants have repeatedly said they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated in detention, and coerced into signing statements, but there have been no reports of any official investigation into the allegations.

Amnesty International is calling for an independent investigation into the torture allegations, and for any evidence obtained under torture or coercion to be rejected by the court.

Contested Confessions Used to Imprison Protesters - Evidence They Assaulted Police Allegedly Obtained by Torture

Human Rights Watch, Rabat, 17 September 2012

[accessed 6 February 2013]

A Moroccan court on September 12, 2012, sentenced five activists of the pro-reform February 20 Movement to prison terms, and one to a suspended term, for assaulting and insulting police officers after what may have been an unfair trial.

A Casablanca court sentenced them to up to 10 months in prison despite their claim, from the moment they emerged from police custody, that they had been tortured into signing false confessions, the sole evidence against them. The court refused to summon any of the officers who claimed to have been assaulted to appear in court, and heard no witnesses who identified the defendants as having committed any infractions. The defendants plan to appeal.

“The court sent protesters to jail on the basis of confessions allegedly obtained under torture, while refusing to summon the complainants to be heard in court,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Morocco can guarantee fair trials only when courts seriously investigate allegations of coerced confessions and dismiss as evidence any confessions the police obtained improperly.”

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/MAR/CO/4 (2011)

[accessed 4 March 2013]

Events involving Western Sahara

12. The Committee is concerned by the reports it has received regarding the alleged use by Moroccan law enforcement officers and security personnel of practices in Western Sahara such as arbitrary arrest and detention, incommunicado detention, detention in secret places, torture, ill-treatment, the extraction of confessions under torture and the excessive use of force.

Secret arrests and detention in cases involving security concerns

14. The Committee is concerned by reports that, in cases involving terrorism, legal procedures for arresting, questioning and holding suspects in custody are not always followed in practice. The Committee is also concerned by information pointing to a consistent pattern whereby suspects are arrested by plain-clothes officers who do not clearly identify themselves, taken in for questioning and then held in secret detention facilities, which in practice amounts to incommunicado detention. The suspects are not officially registered and are subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They are held in these conditions for weeks at a time without being brought before a judge and without judicial supervision. Their families are not notified of their arrest, of their movements or of their whereabouts until such time as they are transferred to police custody in order to sign confessions that they have made under torture. It is only then that they are officially registered and their cases are processed through the regular justice system on the basis of falsified dates and information (arts. 2, 11, 12, 15 and 16).

Coerced confessions

17. The Committee is concerned by the fact that, under the State party’s current system of investigation, confessions are commonly used as evidence for purposes of prosecution and conviction. The Committee notes with concern that convictions in numerous criminal cases, including terrorism cases, are based on confessions, thus creating conditions that may provide more scope for the torture and ill-treatment of suspects (arts. 2 and 15).


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Torture and other ill-treatment continued to be reported, with detainees held for interrogation by the Department of State Surveillance (DST) particularly at risk. Following his visit in September, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture observed that torture tended to be more prevalent when the authorities perceived state security to be under threat. He noted that torture allegations rarely resulted in prosecutions of alleged perpetrators.

In October, the National Human Rights Council reported that prison staff continued to commit abuses against prisoners and that investigations were rare.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 4   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 6 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary is not independent. Courts rarely make decisions that violate official policy. The courts are also subject to government pressure and have been used as a weapon to punish government critics. Under the recommendations that accompanied the Equity and Reconciliation Commission’s final report in 2006, the authorities were supposed to institute a series of legal and institutional reforms to prevent repetition of past human rights abuses. While the report and the overall work of the commission were bold, substantive changes have been slow in implementation, and some critics allege that the situation is unlikely to improve. Arbitrary arrest and torture still occur, but they are less common than under the previous king. The security forces are given greater leeway for abuse with detainees from Western Sahara.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 6 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices, and the government denied the use of torture; however, according to local and international human rights organizations and lawyers, prisoners, and detainees, members of the security forces tortured or otherwise abused detainees. The penal code stipulates sentences up to life imprisonment for public servants who use or allow the use of violence against others in the exercise of their official duties. By law pretrial investigating judges must refer a detainee to an expert in forensic medicine if asked to do so or if judges notice suspicious physical marks on a detainee. Unlike in the past year, judges enforced this requirement according to the Ministry of Justice.

Attorneys for some persons who were convicted under the 2003 antiterrorism law claimed that their clients' convictions were based on signed confessions coerced under torture. There was no indication that the government took any action in response to claims of torture made in August 2003 at the Court of Appeal in Fez by 29 persons accused of terrorism, and judicial authorities reportedly refused to order any medical examinations.

In June 2004 AI published a report that accused security authorities of systematic torture and ill treatment of suspects held at the Temara detention center. AI noted a sharp rise over the past two years in such cases in the context of "counter terrorism" measures as well as the failure of government authorities to investigate these reports. The government pledged to investigate each of the alleged cases in the AI report. The government did not provide an update on these cases.

During 2003 and 2004 AI and other human rights organizations reported torture and ill treatment during initial interrogations of prisoners, including beatings, electric shocks, and sexual abuse. Former detainees reported that authorities held them in secret detention and denied contact with lawyers or family. The AI report also documented accusations of arbitrary detention and forced confessions of detained terrorism suspects.

Authorities had not yet published a result of an investigation ordered in March 2004 by then Minister of Human Rights Mohamed Oujjar into whether those detained in connection with the May 2003 Casablanca explosions had been subjected to torture and human rights violations.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Morocco",, [accessed <date>]