Rabat – Mustapha Ramid, the Minister in charge of Human Rights, has called for the installation of surveillance cameras in the premises of the judicial police, police stations, and prisons to help prevent torture – a measure he announced three years ago as Minister of Justice and Public Freedoms, but which never saw the light of day.
Ramid now seems to be taking up the fight against torture a little bit more seriously. During a study day organized Wednesday by the Committee of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights in the House of Representatives, on the reorganization of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), Ramid said that the use of these cameras should not be limited to the investigation process, but that they should remain functional throughout the preventive detention, “24/7.”
“If the judicial police takes its responsibilities more seriously, then this will lead to the elimination of torture,” he said, adding that Morocco has “long since broken ties with this practice.” He stressed that the cases relayed by the media “are isolated cases and not a systematic practice.”
Ramid strongly defended the criminal law draft he proposed as Minister of Justice and Public Freedoms serving the last government. However, this bill is still pending approval and ratification in the Parliament.
The Minister considered that among the “exciting” articles in his proposed draft is the nullification of confessions extorted under duress.
“Whenever allegations of torture have been made, and the defendant’s demands to undergo the legal and medical expertise were not met, then his police statements before or during the preliminary investigation are null and void,” the minister said. “Our objective is to obligate the courts to carry out the investigation by conducting forensic expertise, when the need arises, and not to do so means recognizing the existence of torture and thus nullifying confessions.”
The Minister of State in charge of Human Rights stressed that the elimination of torture requires that the detainee must be allowed to be accompanied by his lawyer as soon as he is placed under the hands of the judicial police, pointing out that the implementation of this principle will take between three and five years, because its activation requires the formation of lawyers and the judicial police .
Ramid added that “the elimination of torture was the responsibility of the State, which must make efforts to deal with cases of torture.” The minister also called torture a “shameful, barbaric and dangerous practice. First, it violates human dignity and physical integrity and undermines the principles of a fair trial.”
“There is no fair trial with torture.” concluded the minister.
For many activists, if this measure comes into force, it will constitute a big step towards the protection of detainees’ human rights. As many Hirak detainees recently claimed to have been victims of torture during their detention on remand, this measure becomes all the more imperative.
The national mechanism for the prevention of torture is still at the heart of heated debate between officials and activists, who denounce the financial independence of this body and that of its members.
It should be recalled that the decision to videotape the interrogations was announced by the same Mustapha Ramid three years ago, when he was Minister of Justice and Public Freedoms.
Formally introducing his draft law on criminal procedure, he had promised a mini-revolution in criminal procedure capable of offering “guarantees of a fair trial while being in harmony with the provisions of the new Constitution.”
This bill, which had been freely available on the website of the Ministry of Justice, had nevertheless been the subject of passionate debates on social networks and among NGOs. However, the CNDH soon seized the draft to reformulate the proposals, urging the legislator to base the revision of the penal legislation based on the human rights approach, the preeminence of the preventive logic, the implementation of the constitutional guarantees to harmonize the Moroccan legislation with the international conventions that the kingdom has ratified or acceded to.