Agadir – As the Moroccan House of Representatives prepares for a parliamentary session on the discussion of the situation of prisons on Tuesday, February 2, the house’s commission of justice carried out a fact-finding mission in three Moroccan penal establishments.
The report noted the excessive use of punishment for people held in isolation, citing 1,918 such incidents in 2018 in the prison of Oukacha alone.
The commission highlighted the overcrowding of prisons as the major concern It estimates that Moroccan prisons are at 75% over capacity. The Oukacha prison is the most overcrowded prison in Morocco, mostly due to the number of prisoners in pre-trial detention.
Other concerns discussed in the report are the difficulties of securing orders from the prison store, and the size of the inmates’ promenade, a mere 150 meters for 500 inmates.
The report also raised concerns over the inmates of Toulal 1 prison in Meknes and the Moul Berki prison in Safi, citing the remoteness of the locations. Many prisoners are demanding to be transferred to establishments closer to their families.
The commission also noted that Morocco lacks the facilities to ensure the fair treatment of minors within the penitentiary system. It pointed to the Oukacha prison as one such example.
According to the report, the Casablanca-based prison does not separate minors from adults, neither does it have a psychiatrist or a maternity ward. The only positive point in the report concerns the El Hoceima prison, where juvenile detainees are given larger cells and more time for walks and family visits.
The Moroccan parliamentarians also pointed to the weakness of judicial control over penitentiary establishments as another major concern. The report found that many prisoners are receiving insufficient medical care.
Attempting to improve the situation of prisoners in Morocco, the government hopes to turn prisons into a place of learning and training. Mohammed V University is providing lectures, books, and scientific papers for the inmates, hoping to prepare them for the outside world.
The commission of justice concluded its report by issuing 40 recommendations for improving the situation of Moroccan prisoners.
It argued that Moroccan authorities should pay particular attention to improving the legal and organizational framework of the penitentiary system. The report also stressed the need for ensuring that detainees’ rights are respected and that prisoners have access to essential services.