Rabat - For the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), the new public prosecution independence bill “strengthens justice independence in its entirety, and in conformity with the spirit of the 2011 constitution.”
Rabat – For the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), the new public prosecution independence bill “strengthens justice independence in its entirety, and in conformity with the spirit of the 2011 constitution.”
The CNDH has now delivered its opinion on the law, which has sparked a controversy in the politico-media scene.
On July 24, the Moroccan parliament approved Bill 33-17, making the King’s Attorney General at the Court of Cassation the new head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, independent from any parliamentary oversight or government intervention.
Since its introduction into the Parliament on July 6, the bill in question sparked huge controversy from fierce opposition to a rushed approval. The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) even took matters to the constitutional court, claiming the bill infringed multiple laws and decrees.
The comments of the Council chaired by Driss El Yazami focused on the content of the text. From the outset, the CNDH dwelled on the progress and shortcomings of this bill, considering that the draft law “fits in with the criteria of independence of the prosecutor’s office strengthens the independence of the judiciary as a whole in accordance with the spirit and texts of the Constitution.”
The CNDH said that the importance of the bill lies in its concern for the hierarchical status of the public prosecutor’s office, to which the law confers the task of ensuring, on behalf of society and in the general interest, the rights and freedoms of individuals and the necessary efficiency of the criminal justice system.
The Council also noted that “the draft law is broadly in line with the opinions of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors,” in particular one dated back to December 2014 on “European standards and principles concerning prosecutors.”
However, the CNDH criticized the financial independence the bill allows the Attorney General of the King, making the latter the author of the expenses of the prosecution. The Council specified on this matter that its decisions concerning the creation of administrative, financial, and technical structures “must be validated by the Ministry of Finance.”
The CNDH advocated for “the clarification of the legal mechanisms of control of the action of the Attorney General of the King.” However, the Council did not detail the functioning of the mechanisms it advocates, nor did it indicate the body responsible for it.
El Yazami also recommended “the revision of article 51 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC) in accordance with the option of independence of the prosecutor’s office.” The article in question defines the statutes of the Attorney General and the hierarchical relations between the Ministry of Justice and prosecutors.
According to the Council, “it would have been preferable for the bill to provide an opportunity for determining the nature and scope of the independence of the prosecutor’s office, and to contain certain general rules concerning the role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, whose principles of objectivity, fairness, and transparency are linked to the role of the prosecutor’s office.”
For El Yazami’s Council, the bill must essentially ensure the protection of suspects, witnesses, and victims, stressing that any instruction issued by the General Prosecutor’s Office must be published in appropriate manner and accompanied of any prosecution in a specific case with sufficient guarantees of transparency and fairness.