The OMP renews its recommendations for the revision of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure

The Moroccan Prison Observatory (OMP) calls for the improvement of conditions of detention and maintains that the achievement of progress in this sector requires the harmonization of the legislative system relating to penitentiary establishments with international standards and conventions in the matter.

In its annual report presented the day before yesterday in Rabat, the OMP pleads for the revision of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, in accordance with international standards relating to the rights of detainees, enshrining the right to a fair trial and guaranteeing the right to life and all other rights.

Regarding the issue of pre-trial detention, which constitutes a legal headache, the OMP, with alarming figures to support it, considers that a review of the penal system is urgently needed in order to reduce this phenomenon by rationalizing its enforcement, by putting in place a system of judicial control instead of this measure, by abolishing custodial sentences for a certain number of offenses, and by encouraging the implementation of the settlement procedure.

In addition, the report underlines that the OMP handled, during the year 2020, 122 complaints received from different parties. Almost 30% concern torture and ill-treatment, or 12% more than in 2019; over 21% of complaints relate to the transfer of the detainee; more than 18% concern access to health care; almost 18% relate to visiting rights; over 12% relate to hunger strikes; and over 21% of complaints concern requests for information about detainees, requests for pardons, detainees’ access to their personal effects.

Regarding complaints of torture and ill-treatment, 59% of violations were allegedly committed by guards, 38% by heads of detention, 9% by prison directors and 12% by other detainees.

In this regard, the OMP calls for accelerating the operationalization of the national mechanism for the prevention of torture so that it can exercise its functions of monitoring places of detention, while emphasizing the need to engage in dialogue. for the identification of modalities for the participation of civil society in protection mechanisms, in particular the national mechanism for the prevention of torture.

The year 2020 was marked by the Covid-19 health crisis. According to the OMP, despite this context and the amnesty of thousands of prisoners, the prison population, in 2020, has not experienced a significant decline. Thus, as of December 31, 2020, 84,994 detainees were incarcerated, including 20% ​​in Casablanca-Settat and 18% in Rabat-Salé-Kénitra.

What is alarming, according to the OMP, is that people aged 20 to 30 are at the top of the prison population list with a rate of around 43%, while those aged 30 to 40 represent 30. %, those aged 40 to 50 represent 14%, and those aged 50 to 60 represent 6%.

The OMP would like to recall that during this health crisis, trials were organized remotely. Indeed, between April 27, 2020 and December 25, 2020, the various courts held 12,248 remote hearings, during which 227,214 people were heard.

“This has sometimes resulted in delays in starting some sessions, or delays in running others until the technical problem has been resolved, as well as problems related to mastering how to use the system. audiovisual “, specifies the report of the OMP before raising” the problem of the legal basis governing the adoption of the remote trial without the accused-detainees being brought before the courts which risks infringing the principle of legality of the penal procedure”.
Regarding the conditions of detention in prisons, the OMP reports that the hunger strike reached 1,011 cases in 2020, against 1,382 in 2019 and 1,573 in 2018, stressing that 624 prisoners observed a hunger strike of less than ‘a week, 323 between a week and a month, and 64 went on hunger strike for more than a month.

According to this report, the rate of hunger strike for reasons related to detention conditions is estimated at 24.1%, while the number of strikes for other reasons, mainly related to legal proceedings or judgments, amounted to 767, for a total of 75.9%.

As for deaths in prisons, the report suggests that their number has increased by 42 cases compared to 2019, including 11 due to Covid-19. “In 2020, 213 deaths were recorded in penitentiary establishments, which represents 2.51% of deaths in relation to the total number of prisoners. 99% of the deceased are men and 4% are minors ”, reports the OMP.

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