Democracy and rights
Despite some reforms in recent years, the
king keeps a firm grip on power. Morocco is usually
highlighted as one of the Arab countries where freedom
of expression is greatest, but the constitutional
freedom of the press is limited in practice. The
judiciary is independent on paper but plagued by
corruption. State power exerts influence on politically
The Royal House, after the turn of the millennium,
has given in to demands for democratic elections, but
sets boundaries and favors traditional relations. The
makhzen, an old-fashioned power elite with the
core at its core, also includes senior officers,
business leaders and politicians. These influential
informal groupings undermine state institutions and are
often considered to stand in the way of reform.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Morocco, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The party activities are tied up by the royal power,
despite the fact that elections are held for both
parliaments and regional assemblies. Several Islamist
and leftist parties have approached the royal house and
participated in governments. However, the country's
largest opposition movement is not allowed to function
as a party.
In matters of gender equality, the royal power has
sent clear signals. Women have been given better legal
protection against forced marriage and poor working
conditions, and strengthened rights in divorce. Regent
painters were previously completely invisible to the
public, but with lalla Salma (from 2002), an active
queen, modernly educated, has been presented as a role
model (although transparency has limits: royal divorce
papers exist - and they cannot be debated by Moroccan
The conditions for Berber (native), Western Sahari
(occupied) and migrants (most from sub-Saharan Africa)
Protests in the Rifbergen, largely populated by
Berber, have led to hundreds of arrests. Those arrested
may be pardoned by the king, but leaders of the protests
have difficulty regaining freedom (see Calendar).
The rights of Western Saharis, as people and as
individuals, are not respected. A promised referendum
has never been carried out and Morocco has moved its own
population into the area (see Conflicts, Western
The Moroccan state strives to meet the EU's desire to
prevent migrants from reaching Europe. Human rights
organizations criticize the way things are done, among
other things that people are placed in camps and that
forced removals occur (see Calendar).
When the Transparency International Organization in
2019 assessed the level of corruption, Morocco was
ranked as country 80 out of 180, see list here. This was
the same level as China and India, but a decline
compared to the previous year. A new law against
corruption had been delayed for several years.
Freedom of expression and media
Mass media is produced in both Arabic and French, and
now also for the Berber audience. But despite promises
of increased freedom, the situation has hardly improved
in recent years. In 2020, Morocco ranked 133 out of 180
in the Reporters Without Borders ranking of freedom of
the press in the countries of the world, see list here.
It appears that newspapers are banned, editors are
imprisoned and foreign journalists are expelled.
Defamation can give one year in prison. Writing about
corruption among the governing, military issues or human
rights is associated with risks, and questioning the
king, Islam or Morocco's claim to Western Sahara is
illegal. Migrant traffic through Morocco and the
protests in the Rifbergen are sensitive issues. One
method, instead of condemning journalists to prison, is
to demand damages from critical writers and magazines,
sentenced by litigation in the politically controlled
judiciary. Other types of harassment have also been
reported, such as advertising boycotts to stun critical
newspapers financially. Article 381 of the Criminal Code
is used to access "barefoot journalists" who document
the abuse of the authorities. The legal text is really
meant to prevent people from pretending to have a degree
or a professional title that they do not have. In this
way, Article 381 acts as an obstacle to freedom of
A couple of the largest newspapers are privately
owned and politically independent. The circulation
figures are low, which is due, among other things, to
illiteracy, distribution difficulties in the countryside
and division into different language groups (see
Education). Many newspapers are linked to some political
party. Other newspapers speak for the regime. However,
state media are increasingly compelled to take into
account competition from foreign satellite channels in
French and Arabic. They often report on things the
government of Morocco is trying to do.
The state operates regional radio channels in Arabic,
French, English, Spanish and the three Berber languages.
State TV broadcasts in Arabic, French and Spanish and is
partly financed by advertising. Since 1994, programs
have also been broadcast on tamazight (Berber) and in
2004 the local TV channel Laâyoune TV was started in
Western Sahara. In the canal 2M in Casablanca, which was
founded by the royal house's wealth manager, the state
has become a majority owner when the canal is in
financial crisis. Several private radio stations include
French-Moroccan Radio Méditerranée International
(MEDI-1) in Tangier.
It happens that foreign media is turned off. Spanish
El País was withdrawn twice in 2012, once because of an
unsavory drawing and the second time because of writings
about a royal-critical book. In practice, the TV channel
al-Jazira was shut down for three years from 2010. On
the other hand, when the government wants to reach
audiences outside the country, it sometimes uses foreign
media. The foreign minister chose to be interviewed by
al-Jazira when the government criticized the Saudi-led
military offensive in Yemen.
The Internet played an important role in mobilizing
protests in 2011 (see Modern History). The government
has occasionally blocked individual websites, especially
those that have propagated for an independent Western
Sahara, and blogging and anonymization tools. There is a
lively blogosphere and network activism has influenced
Moroccan politics on several occasions, but both
bloggers and artists who criticize power through music
videos risk punishment.
Judicial system and legal security
The legal system is based on a combination of French,
Spanish and Islamic law. Islamic law is applied in cases
involving family law and inheritance law. There is also
a military tribunal. In the justice system, there is
then old corruption and political pressure.
According to the constitution, the king is to
guarantee the independence and function of the
judiciary. He chairs the so-called Supreme Judicial
Council, elects half of the members of the
Constitutional Court and appoints its chairman.
During Hassan II's long reign (1961-1999), human
rights violations were many and grave. Particularly
vulnerable were left-wing activists and people suspected
of being involved in military coup attempts. Following
the outbreak of the war in 1975, hundreds of civilians
in Western Sahara also disappeared. From the 1980s, the
repression was directed more towards Islamists, who then
began to be perceived as the great threat to the regime.
Only during the 1990s did the conditions soften.
Mohammed VI has tried to distance himself from the
inheritance of the father by emphasizing the importance
of a rule of law with respect for human rights. In
Rabat, the first center in the Arab world was opened in
2000 for the training of police, prison guards, judges
and teachers on human rights issues. The King also
appointed a Justice and Reconciliation Commission in
2003 to investigate the previous abuses. It reported in
2005 several hundred extrajudicial executions and that
over 9,000 people were exposed to human rights
violations. The victims or relatives were proposed to
receive financial compensation - but the regime did not
allow the culprits to be identified or brought to
justice. Human rights groups claim that many cases have
remained unresolved, especially with regard to missing
Western Saharians and prominent enemies of the regime.
Activists who gathered in 2011 in what came to be
called the February 20 movement have also been subjected
to harassment. According to the Moroccan Human Rights
Association (AMDH), at least 2,000 activists were
arrested for four years from the start of the protests.
Most were held briefly, but a number that have not been
released are regarded by critics as political prisoners.
The security apparatus from King Hassan's days
remains, although the management has been replaced. In
recent years, interest has mainly been directed towards
Islamist extremists, and with the support of a new
anti-terrorist law, several thousands were arrested
after the bombing in Casablanca in 2003 (see Modern
History). According to human rights groups, many were
subjected to torture and wrongful trials. Western
Saharan nationalists have also been subjected to harsh
interventions and abuse.
Unlike in countries with stricter application of
religious law, such as those in the Persian Gulf, those
who leave Islam do not risk the death penalty. The death
penalty is sometimes punished for particularly serious
crimes, but no execution has taken place since 1993.