Constitutional Provisions

Under Article 20 of the 2011 Constitution of Morocco:  

The right to life is the first right of any human being. The law protects this right.

Article 21 provides that everyone has the right to security of person. Article 22 provides as follows:

The physical or moral integrity of anyone may not be infringed, in whatever circumstance that may be, and by any party that may be, public or private.

No one may inflict on others, under whatever pretext there may be, cruel, inhuman, [or] degrading treatments or infringements of human dignity.

The practice of torture, under any of its forms and by anyone, is a crime punishable by the law.

Article 29 guarantees the freedoms of meeting, of assembly, and of peaceful demonstration. "The law establishes the conditions of the exercise of these freedoms."

The Constitution does not regulate the use of force by the police or other law enforcement agencies. 

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Signatory

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Not party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court Not party
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Not party
Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
2004 Arab Charter on Human Rights Signatory

Morocco is the only African nation that is not party to the 1981 Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. 

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The national police service and primary law enforcement agency in Morocco is the General Directorate for National Security (DGSN), the Sûreté nationale. The DGSN is under the Ministry of Interior while the Gendarmerie Nationale under the Ministry of Defence are the main law enforcement agencies in Morocco.

In July 2018, the DGSN issued an instruction requiring police officers to carry their service weapons while on duty and in uniform. The DGSN believes that the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms govern and limit their right to use firearms. This is not, however, formally set forth in national legislation and there have been reports in past years of police use of firearms that would violate international law.

The police have the right--as does any Moroccan citizen--to use force in self-defence against an attacker in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Code. Article 124 of the Code thus allows the necessary use of force in self defence or defence of others as long as the force used is proportionate to the gravity of the attack.

The gendarmerie--but not the DGSN--are bound by the 1958 law on the gendarmerie. According to Article 61 of the law, officers and gendarmes may only use their weapons in the following cases:

  • When violence or an assault is carried out against them or when they are threatened by armed individuals;
  • When they can not otherwise defend the ground they occupy, the posts or persons entrusted to them, or, finally, if the resistance is such that it can not be defeated other than by force of arms;
  • When the persons called on to stop by repeated calls of "halte gendarmerie", made aloud, seek to escape their guard or their investigations, can not be constrained to stop only by the use of weapons and whose characteristic flight is preceded or accompanied by general or particular elements which establish or cause to be presumed their almost certain participation in a crime or serious offence.

This is more permissive than international law allows. 

Police Oversight

The Human Rights Council of Morocco has the mandate to conduct civilian oversight of the police.

In 2019-20, the Council conducted a detailed investigation into the "Al-Hoceima Protests".



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2016 Concluding Observations on Morocco, the Human Rights Committee was concerned

about the excessive and disproportionate use of force to disperse unauthorized peaceful gatherings despite the issuance of a circular by the Ministry of Justice and Freedoms in October 2015 which states that police intervention is justified only in the presence of an armed mob and/or when a crowd has gathered that is likely to disturb the peace....

In his 2013 Report on his mission to Morocco, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture found that

in Laâyoune, Western Sahara, torture and ill-treatment had been inflicted during arrest, at police stations and at the prison, and that excessive use of force was used during demonstrations for the independence of Western Sahara. 


There is no regional human rights court with jurisdiction over police use of force in Morocco.


According to the authorities, 38 members of law enforcement agencies were prosecuted in 2015 for acts of torture (24 police officers, 8 prison officers, 2 gendarmes, 2 law enforcement officials, and 3 soldiers). 


Constitution du Maroc de 2011

2011 Constitution of Morocco (unofficial English language version)

Code Penal du Maroc

Dahir n° 1-57-280 du 14 janvier 1958

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Morocco (2016)

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture on his mission to Morocco (2013)