Morocco activist says death row prisoners kept in "inhumane conditions"

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Published Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rights activists accused Moroccan authorities on Wednesday of keeping more than 100 prisoners awaiting execution in "inhumane and unacceptable conditions," despite a 20-year moratorium on the death penalty.

Citing a recent study, Abderrahim Jamai, coordinator of the Moroccan Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CMCPM), said dozens of inmates were being kept in "corridors of death" nationwide.

Some prisoners "have already spent 15 years in their cells and that begs the question about the amount of time it takes to implement a sentence," Jamai said.

He expressed the hope that this Friday, the 12th World Day against the Death Penalty, would spur capital punishment reform in Morocco.

Although a moratorium on executions was signed in 1993, dozens of prisoners remain on death row across the country.

"Many of those condemned to death suffer from mental issues and endure extremely difficult psychological conditions," said lawmaker Nouzha Skalli, a former minister and spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Network Against the Death Penalty in Morocco.

In June, Driss el Yazami, the president of the National Council for Human Rights, called for an end to the death penalty.

Although this provided campaigners with some hope that the kingdom was moving towards abolishing capital punishment, Morocco's Islamist-led parliament rejected the measure.

"The government needs to take into account that there are close to 240 parliamentarians (out of 600) who openly favor abolition (of the death penalty)," Skalli said.

"The great humanist causes advance inexorably," she added, referring to the global drive to stamp out capital punishment.

Skalli's group tabled a bill in parliament to this effect in late 2013, but it "has not yet been discussed."

Opponents of the death penalty point to Morocco's new constitution, adopted in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, which guarantees the "right to life" without explicitly proscribing capital punishment.

(AFP)

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