“There can be no justice without abolition of the death penalty”

The call for the abolition of the death penalty has grown since the middle of the 20th century, considered a ” solution to put an end to crime and obtain justice, the death penalty is judged today as contrary to the right to life. And Morocco is moving in this direction. Moreover, the Kingdom had signed in 1977, then ratified in 1979, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

During an international meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Amina Bouayach, president of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), welcomed the fact that several prisoners sentenced to death in Morocco were able to benefit from the Royal pardon from 2000 to 2022, noting that more than 123 people had their sentences commuted to life or a fixed term sentence.

While thanking the facilitators of the resolution as well as the sponsors of this meeting and the mobilization of abolitionists for the vote in favor of the moratorium on the death penalty, Amina Bouayach raised the universal trend for the abolition of the death penalty which grows stronger year after year.

“More than two-thirds of States (144 States) have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and 90 States have ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the Civil and Political Rights Covenant, aimed at abolishing the death penalty. Within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), 33 out of 57 states have abolished or observe a de facto moratorium on the application of the death penalty”she said in her speech at the meeting in New York.

Thus, the president of the CNDH recalled that Morocco has observed a de facto moratorium since 1993, which means that the death penalty has not been applied for 30 years, without this resulting in a vote at the General Assembly of the ‘UN.

To date, continues Amina Bouayach, judges continue to pronounce death sentences, and there are 76 people sentenced to death, including one woman, 59 for common law crimes and 17 for crimes related to terrorism.

Gradually, the official noted the expansion of the abolitionist movement, stressing that this certain dynamic for abolition is part of a global context of positive evolution of the overall situation of human rights in Morocco.

“We are delighted that several prisoners sentenced to death have been able to benefit from the Royal Pardon from 2000 to 2022; we estimate that more than 123 people have had their sentences commuted to life or a fixed term”she confided.

The CNDH pleads for a legislative framework for the protection of the rights, freedoms and interests of citizens

For the first time, and for ten days this month of October, the CNDH shared with national and international opinion the testimonies of people sentenced to death, after private interviews in their cells in 6 prison establishments, in order to know the circumstances and the life course of these citizens who have never had the opportunity to express themselves on their actions and their daily life as prisoners sentenced to death, indicated Amina Bouayach. Testimonies that she summarized in ” hope in life and expectation of death (ترقب للموت وامل في الحياة), she confided.

This approach is part of the CNDH’s advocacy strategy, to present the faces of the death penalty to society, which are the faces of human beings, having lived through unique circumstances, she indicated, let us be aware that “the overwhelming majority of death penalty supporters are unaware that anyone, for one reason or another, can see their life take a tragic turn “.

The second part of the strategy, continues the manager in her speech, is centered on the legal domain and is part of a constant process of building a legal arsenal making the practice of the death penalty impossible.

These are not only international instruments, but also national legislation which would no longer give the judge the opportunity to pronounce a death penalty sentence. “, she said.

Thus, the official at the CNDH recalled that since 2011, the inalienable and inviolable nature of the right to life has been enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom in its article 20 in a clear and unequivocal manner: “The right to life is the first right of every human being. The law protects this right”.

“Not only is there no exception to this right, but, in addition, the legislator, the magistrate, has the constitutional obligation to protect it from any infringement or infraction. So in Morocco; applying the death penalty is unconstitutional, the constitution reflects the will and choice of almost 40 million people; and a territory of 712,000 km2″,says the manager.

Given the arbitrary and irrevocable nature, Bouayach noted that capital punishment negates due process of law, as it forever deprives an individual of the opportunity to benefit from new evidence or new legal provisions, which would argue for the reversal of a death sentence once enforced.

“The decision of the El Jadida court recently confirmed our verified abolitionist argument. Thus, on October 6, a sentenced to death saw his sentence commuted to a life sentence, after a review of the judgment based on a psychiatric report.Bouayach said, noting that hethere can therefore be no justice without the abolition of the death penalty“.

In short, the President of the CNDH indicated that the Council pleads for a legislative framework, the primary goal of which is the protection of the rights, freedoms and interests of citizens, through predictable, useful and fair laws.

“We are convinced that the debate has matured in Morocco and that royal pardons participate in regulating criminal policy in the matter of the death penalty. I reiterate on behalf of the Moroccan abolitionist movement, the necessity and the urgency to vote in favor of the resolution for the universal moratorium, and we will continue to act to break with the confusion and hesitation of the legislator, during the next debate around of the reform of the Penal Code, to defend the primacy of the right to life»,she concluded.

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