Rabat - The first bill submitted to the Moroccan parliament by the Islamist government of Abdelilah Benkirane grants the military criminal immunity against any judicial prosecution, sparking wide controversy and debate within parliament.
Rabat – The first bill submitted to the Moroccan parliament by the Islamist government of Abdelilah Benkirane grants the military criminal immunity against any judicial prosecution, sparking wide controversy and debate within parliament.
“Military personnel in the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) who carry out orders received from their superiors in the chain [of command] in the framework of a military operation conducted at home in their mission shall not be questioned criminally and shall enjoy the protection of the state from exposure to threats, prosecution, attacks, abuse, slander or insult in the practice or performance of their duties or thereafter,” chapter 7 of the bill reads.
The new bill gives “vague and unacceptable” immunity to the military establishment, Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) Chairman Abdelatif Ouahbi said.
“We warn of the negative consequences of ratification of this chapter,” he said without explicitly rejecting the concept of immunity. “But we want to reduce and frame it so there are no negative consequences and repercussions due to back-slides that may accompany this immunity.”
Parliamentary lawyer Abdellatif Wahbi told Magharebia that the law is similar to other national laws governing the military.
“It’s not immunity but a guarantee,” Wahbi explained. The military is the only one “who has the right to kill or be killed. So we want military immunity for action against the enemy”, he said.
He questioned the concept of this “immunity” and suggested seeking the opinion of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH).
In turn, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) MP Hasna Abou Zaid said that the committee did not reject the advice of the CNDH on the subject.
“Institutions of governance cannot be held accountable because they are not subject to the authority of any ministry,” Hasna said.
“As for the new draft law, there is no fear, only international contexts must be considered so that is not exploited by the predators of territorial integrity and so the orders do not appear arranged or directed,” he added.
Minister-Delegate for the National Defense Administration Abdellatif Loudiyi responded to parliament, reminding MPs that they took the Penal Law and the Law of Military Discipline in the new constitution into account when drafting the bill.
“This is protection, not immunity. But if anyone has committed a crime, they will be sent to court,” he said, “The law protects military personnel while performing their mission and national duty,” Loudiyi added.
Other MPs questioned different stipulations set forth by the bill.
Islamist MPs favored by the Justice and Development Party questioned language banning military personnel from having beards, belonging to or attending religious organizations, and from using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Loudiyi responded that the FAR provides “religious advisers enjoying special status within the military” who can “give their lessons in preaching and guidance under the supervision of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs”.
He explained that Chapter 28 of the Military Discipline Law prohibits everyone regardless of rank “from opening accounts on social networking sites because that discourse in public is not permitted without permission”.