1. What’s the National Human Rights Council?
The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) in a national institution for the protection and promotion of human rights in Morocco. It is an independent and pluralistic institution created in March 2011, to replace the (former) Advisory Council on Human Rights.
The founding law of the council is in full compliance with the United Nations Paris Principles. It’s thus accredited as an “A Status” institution by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights.
The Council has 13 regional human rights commissions operating in the different regions of Morocco. These commissions were created to promote outreach policy and access of citizens to the Council to best protect and promote their human rights.
(CNDH stands for the Conseil national des droits de l’Homme, in French).
2. What is the relationship between the National Human Rights Council and the former Advisory Council on Human Rights?
The National Human Rights Council was created to replace the Advisory Council on Human Rights that was created in 1990, but with a broader mandate and more independence. The Advisory Council was one of the engines of the political transition that Morocco started in the nineties, mainly through the settlement of the past serious human rights violations. The Council issued, in this regard, for example, an advisory opinion to release political prisoners, an opinion to create a commission to compensate the victims of enforced disappearances (the Independent Arbitration Commission), an opinion to create a truth commission (the Equity and Reconciliation Commission), etc..
In 2002, the founding law of the Advisory Council was amended to be in conformity with the Paris Principles, governing NHRIs. At the time, ministers who had full membership, when the Council was first created, could still be members of the Council. They had a right to deliberate but no right to vote. No ministries and no political parties are represented in the new Council, which further strengthen the independence of the institution.
Created a few months before the Constitutional reform that was adopted by referendum in July 2011, the Council has also become a crucial mechanism for the building of democracy. It’s very engaged, through its memoranda and opinions, in the legislative and institutional reform. It advises on matters related to the harmonization of the legal arsenal with the provisions of the Supreme Law and the international conventions and to the implementation of the National Plan of Action on Democracy and Human Rights.
3. What are the powers and prerogatives of the National Human Rights Council?
As a national human rights institution, the National Human Rights Council works for the protection and promotion of human rights in Morocco. It also encourages and stimulates thoughts and debate on human rights and democracy.
To protect and defend human rights and freedoms, the Council:
- monitors the situation of human rights, at the national and regional levels;
- monitors cases of violations and may conduct necessary investigations and inquiries;
- drafts reports on its observations and investigations and submits them to the competent authorities with relevant recommendations;
- may intervene, on an urgent basis, whenever there is a source of tension, to prevent any possible individual or collective human rights violations;
- contributes to the implementation of the mechanisms provided for in the international human rights conventions ratified by Morocco;
- and visits places of detention, prisons, child protection centers, reintegration centers, psychiatric hospitals and places where foreigners in illegal situation may be held. It prepares relevant reports and submits them to the competent authorities.
To promote human rights, it
- examines and studies harmonization of national laws with the provisions of international human rights conventions and International Humanitarian Law and submits its recommendations to the government authorities;
- contributes to the reports that the government is required to submit to the United Nations treaty bodies;
- advises and provides support to the parliament and government in the field of harmonization, upon their request;
- encourages Morocco to adhere to international human rights conventions and International Humanitarian Law;
- promotes the principles and rules of International Humanitarian Law and sees to their consolidation;
- contributes to the promotion of the culture of human rights and citizenship;
- and submits to His Majesty the King annual report on the situation of human rights in Morocco and outcome of the Council. This report shall be published in the Moroccan Official Gazette. The President of the Council gives a presentation on the report before the two Houses of Parliament.
To stimulate and encourage thoughts and debate on democracy and human rights, the Council:
- organizes national, regional and international human rights forums to shed light on human rights, how they evolved and their future;
- contributes to the building of democracy, through the promotion of plural societal dialogue, including the observation of elections;
- contributes to the creation of networks of dialogue between similar foreign national human rights institutions;
- promotes and encourages national, regional and international initiatives aiming at promoting human rights thoughts;
and awards a "National Human Rights Award" to any deserving person or organization.
4. Does the Council have any powers regarding International Humanitarian Law?
Yes, indeed. The Council is also mandated to promote the principles and rules of International Humanitarian Law.
In coordination with the competent authorities, it can:
- coordinate the activities of the different authorities
- follow-up the implementation of the international conventions to which Morocco is a party.
- help organize training and awareness-raising programs on International Humanitarian Law;
- and develop cooperation and partnerships with the International Committee of the Red Cross and all bodies concerned by the International Humanitarian Law to promote the exchange of experiences.
5. Is it a governmental institution or an NGO?
The national Human Rights Council is neither a government institution nor an NGO. It’s an independent pluralistic national institution for the protection and promotion of human rights, governed by the UN Paris Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions. National human rights institutions, like the Council, are funded by the State but are independent of it. They should be created by law.
6. What are the Paris Principles and how NHRIs can be independent from the governments?
The Paris Principles are a set of international standards that frame and guide the work of National Human Rights Institutions. They were drafted at an international NHRIs workshop that was held in Paris in 1991. They were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 (resolution 48/134). They identify the human rights objectives of national human rights institutions and provide for their independence, broad human rights mandate, adequate funding, and an inclusive and transparent selection and appointment process. They define the role, composition, status and functions of national human rights institutions.
Under the Paris Principles, “the national institution shall have an infrastructure which is suited to the smooth conduct of its activities, in particular adequate funding. The purpose of this funding should be to enable it to have its own staff and premises, in order to be independent of the Government and not be subject to financial control which might affect its independence.”
These Principles are broadly accepted as the test of a NHRI’s legitimacy and credibility and all NHRI are required to comply with them. The National Human Rights Council has been accredited as an A Status NHRI, since 2002. Given by an international body, this accreditation actually means that the Council fully complies with the internationally agreed Principles; that’s to say independent, pluralist, has a broad human rights mandate and has adequate funding, according to international standards.
7. What’s the relationship between the Council and the government?
- The Council contributes to the reports that the government is required to submit to the UN treaty bodies and other international and regional committees, further to the international commitments of Morocco;
- It facilitates and fosters, by all means available, fruitful cooperation and partnership between the public authorities and national and international NGOS for the protection and promotion of human rights;
- It reviews and considers the harmonization of laws and regulations in force with the international human rights conventions to which Morocco is a party and International Humanitarian Law, in the light of the UN bodies’ final observations and recommendations, made after considering the reports submitted to them by the Moroccan government;
- It proposes any recommendations it deems appropriate for the protection and promotion of human rights to the competent authorities;
- It encourages and urges all government departments and public authorities to implement the concluding observations and recommendations issued by UN treaty bodies.
8. What’s the relationship between the Council and Parliament?
The Parliament has a strong membership in the Council (eight out thirty appointed members): four members are appointed by the Speaker of the First Chamber and four by the Speaker of the Second Chamber.
Upon request, the Council can advise parliament on the harmonization of bills and proposals for legislation with the international human rights conventions ratified by Morocco or to which it is a party.
The President of the Council gives a presentation on the Council’s annual report before the two Houses of Parliament, after submitting a copy of the report to their respective Speakers.
9. What is the relationship between the Council and NGOs?
NGOs and civil society associations are strategic partners. The Council consults and coordinates with them in all activities.
It also supports their promotion, awareness-raising, training programs in the field of human rights and International Humanitarian Law. Civil society is invited to all the public debates that the Council opens on human rights issues.
10. What’s the composition/structure of the Council?
In addition to the President and the secretary General, the Council is made up of 30 members:
- 8 members are selected by His Majesty the King;
- 11 members are proposed by human rights NGOs;
- 8 members proposed by the Speakers of the Houses of Parliament (4 members each);
- 2 members proposed by the highest religious institutional bodies;
- One member proposed by the judges’ association (Amicale Hassania des magistrats)
The Mediator (ombudsman) and the chairpersons of the Council’s 13 regional human rights commissions are members ipso facto.
The Council has a president, a secretary general, standing working groups and ad-hoc committees, a coordination board, regional commissions and an administration and holds plenary sessions to decide over its reports, memoranda, etc.
11. How many working groups the Council has?
The Council has five standing working groups:
- Parity, non-discrimination and the new generations of human rights;
- Monitoring of human rights violations and human rights protection;
- International relations, partnerships and cooperation;
- Promotion of human rights culture and strengthening democracy;
- Assessing and monitoring public policies in the areas of human rights and harmonization of legislation.
Each within its area of intervention, the Council’s working groups reviews, analyses and prepares opinions, reports and studies on the different human rights issues covered by the Council’s mandate.
The President of the Council may, with the permission of His Majesty the King, propose that the Council set up an ad-hoc committee to look into a specific issue which falls within the Council’s mandate.
12. Does the Council have a coordination Board?
The Council has a Coordination Board that included, in addition to the President and the Secretary-General of the Council, the coordinators and rapporteurs of the Council’s working groups and, if need be, the chairpersons of the Council’s regional commissions.
The Board exercises the functions delegated to it by the Council within the scope of its mandate. It implements and follows up the implementation of the Council’s decisions. It draws up the Council’s draft annual action program, coordinates the action programs of the regional commissions and the working groups, discusses the draft budget before submitting it to the Council, monitors the preparation of the draft annual report, etc.
13. How many sessions the Council holds?
The Council holds four plenary sessions, as set out in Article 46 of its founding Royal Decree No. 1.11.19.
14. How many regional human rights commissions the Council has?
The Council has 13 regional human rights commissions, in Agadir, Al Hoceima-Nador, Béni Mellal-Khouribga, Casablanca-Settat, Errachidia-Ouarzazate, Fès-Meknès, Laâyoune-Smara, Marrakech, Oujda-Figuig, Rabat-Kenitra, Tanger and Tantan-Guelmim.
In addition to its chairperson and the regional representative of the mediator, each regional commission have members proposed by the regional representative body of magistrates, lawyers, doctors, religious scholars, journalists, regional human rights civil associations and observatories and human rights defenders in the region of the commission.
The regional commissions are mandated to implement the programs and projects of the National Human Rights Council aiming at promoting human rights, in close collaboration with all stakeholders in their respective regions.
15. How many administration units the Council has?
The Council has six administration units that help it fulfill its missions. It has a department for collective rights and regional affairs, a communication department, a department for cooperation and international relations, a department for human and financial resources and computing and a department for protection and assistance to victims.
Each regional commission has its own administration unit.
16. What are the direct services that the Council provides?
The Council investigates all serious violations of human rights, whether on its own initiative or on the basis of complaints received from the persons concerned. It handles the complaints received at national or regional/local level. It orients complainants, follows-up on the complaints it received and keeps complainants informed about their complaints. It takes all possible and necessary steps to assist complainants.
In case the Council receives a complaint that falls within the mandate of the Mediator (ombudsman), it refers the complaint to the Mediator and informs the person concerned.
The Council also encourages and organizes activities to promote the culture of human rights and citizenship through awareness campaigns, training and education, and the media.
17. What are the complaints that fall within the Council's mandate?
On its own initiative or on the basis of a complaint, the Council addresses all allegations of human rights violations such as: extra-judicial detention, deaths in detention centers or in prisons, torture and ill-treatment, violations of the right to health, the right to peaceful protest, the right to organize, the right to create associations, freedom of expression, etc.
18. What’s the Procedure for receiving complaints and giving hearings at the regional level? (Complaints addressed to any regional human rights commission)
Complaints about alleged human rights violations should be addressed to the chairperson of the regional human rights commission concerned. They shall be submitted in writing to the commission.
In order to be admissible, complaints should:
- be submitted in writing. If not possible, the complainant or his/her representative may submit it orally. In this case the complaint should be written and recorded by the chairperson of the commission or his/her representative. A copy of the written complaint should be handed to the complainant;
- be signed by the complainant or his/her representative;
- be supported by evidence and documentation when available;
- specify, as appropriate, the endeavors that the complainant has taken before the competent authorities.
The chairperson of the regional commission should give a receipt to the complainant containing the following information:
- the complaint handling procedure;
- the name, phone number and e-mail of the regional officer in charge of handling complaints;
- a phrase indicating that the submission of the complaint can neither terminate nor suspend the time limits for appeals set forth in the law.
The regional commissions, as part of investigating, processing and following up on the complaints they receive, may:
- require from the complainant, his/her representative or the authorities concerned any information or data they deem useful;
- examine the various supporting evidence and documents relating to the complaint;
invite the complainant, his/her representative or the representative of the authority concerned to a hearing, either individually or collectively. The invitation shall be sent to the said parties at least seven days prior to the date of the hearing.
19. What’s the Procedure for receiving complaints and giving hearings at the national level? (Complaints addressed to the Council in Rabat)
The complaints set out in Articles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Royal Decree No. 1.11.19 establishing the Council should be addressed to the President of the National Human Rights Council, directly by the complainant or his/her representative.
The complaints should be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Council. They can also be sent by registered mail or by any means the Council deems appropriate for this reason.
In order to be admissible, complaints should:
- be submitted in writing. If not possible, the complainant or his/her representative may submit it orally. In this case the complaint should be written and recorded by the competent services at the Council. A copy of the complaint should be handed to the person concerned;
- be signed by the complainant or his/her representative;
- be supported by evidence and documentation when available;
- specify, as appropriate, the endeavors that the complainant has taken before the competent authoritie
The competent services at the Council should issue a temporary deposit receipt to the complainant or his/her representative. The receipt should contain the following information:
- the complaint handling procedure;
- the name, phone number and e-mail of the Council’s complaint handling officer;
- a phrase indicating that the filing of the complaint can neither terminate nor suspend the prescription or review periods set forth in the law.
The Council, as part of investigating the complaints it receives, may:
- require from the complainant or his/her representative and the authorities concerned any information it deems useful;
- examine the various supporting evidence and documents provided with the complaint;
invite the complainant or his/her representative and the representative of the authority concerned to a hearing, either individually or collectively. The invitation shall be sent to the said parties seven days prior to the date of the hearing.
20. What’s the Equity and Reconciliation Commission?
The Equity and Reconciliation Commission is a national commission for truth, justice and reconciliation established by Royal Decree dated April 12, 2004.
The creation of this truth commission was recommended by the Council in November 2003, to settle the serious human rights violations perpetrated in Morocco from 1956 to 1999.
It was the second commission created to compensate the victims of grave human rights violations (after the Independent Arbitration Commission -1999-2003) but this time with a broader mandate. The Equity and Reconciliation Commission had quasi-judicial powers. It was created to establish the truth about the serious human rights violations that took place between 1956 and 1999, give reparations to the victims of those violations and suggest recommendations for institutional and legal reforms to ensure the non-repetition of such violations.
21. How does the Council contribute to implementing international human rights conventions?
The Council examines and considers the harmonization of laws and regulations in force with the international human rights conventions ratified by Morocco or to which Morocco is a party and International Humanitarian Law, and in the light of observations and final recommendations made by UN bodies on the reports submitted to them by the government.
It contributes, as appropriate, to the reports that the government is required to submit UN treaty bodies and other international and regional committees, in fulfillment of the Morocco's international commitments.
It encourages and urges all government departments to implement the final observations and recommendations of treaty bodies
22. Who are the partners of the Council?
The Council works closely with the various government departments, universities, associations and civil society organizations.
It also works with different UN instruments and agencies, international organizations, national human rights, the European Union, etc.
23. How does the Council work for the protection of human rights?
The mandate of National Human Rights Council has been broadened by virtue of its founding Royal Decree, dated March 1st 2011. The Council has now the powers to protect individual and collective freedoms and to intervene whenever there is a source of tension to prevent any potential violations. It has 13 regional human rights commissions, operating in the different regions of Morocco.
1 - Monitoring
The Council monitors the situation of human rights at the national and regional levels. It can visit prisons and correctional facilities and monitors the situation of detainees and how they are treated. It can also visit child protection and rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals and places where illegal migrants can be held.
It draws up reports upon its visits, with its conclusions and recommendations to improve the conditions for inmates and people concerned. It submits its reports and recommendations to the competent authorities.
2 – Handling complaints
The CNDH receives complaints from citizens and handles cases of human rights violations.
3 - Mediation and early intervention
In coordination with the competent authorities, the Mediator (ombudsman) and human rights NGOs, the Council may intervene on urgent basis whenever there is a source of tension that could lead to individual or collective human rights violations. It can make all necessary mediation and conciliation efforts it deems appropriate.
4 - Inquiries and investigations
The CNDH may conduct necessary inquiries and investigations whenever it has confirmed and reliable information on any human rights violations, no matter what these violations are or who is committing them.
5 - Reporting and treaty practice
The Council gives its opinion on any matter related to its mandate. It also submits to His Majesty the King, proposals and thematic or issue specific reports on any matter that is likely to contribute to a better protecting and defending human rights.
It is required to submit to His Majesty an annual report on the situation of human rights in Morocco as its activity outcome and prospects. This report shall published in the Moroccan Official Gazette and be discussed before the two chambers of Parliament.
24. What types of reports the Council publishes?
The Council can publish issue specific/thematic reports on any issue that is likely to contribute to better protecting and defending human rights.
It publishes an annual report on the situation of human rights as the outcome of its activities. This report should be published in the Moroccan Official Gazette.
The CNDH also publishes advisory opinions and memoranda on issues related to human rights.
25. What is the relationship between the Council and the similar national institutions?
The Council is member of several regional and international networks of national human rights institutions:
- Active member of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions;
- Member of the Secretariat of the Euro-Arab Dialogue on Human Rights;
- Chair of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (2009-2011);
- Chair of the Arab Network for National Human Rights Institutions;
Chair of the network of national human rights institutions in French-speaking communities (Association francophone des institutions nationales des droits de l’Homme).
In 2010, the Council took the initiative and called for an Arab- Ibero-american network of national human rights institutions. It hosted the first meeting between Arab- Ibero-american institutions, which was held on the 12th and 13th of October, 2010, in Casablanca.