Morocco proposes justice reform plan
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 13/03/12
Morocco's justice minister looks to overhaul the judiciary system in the next five years. Mustapha Ramid recently presented his 13-point reform plan aimed at making the Moroccan justice system "modern, independent and transparent".
The idea is to bring justice closer to the people, to simplify access to the courts and legal process, to improve judicial and administrative structures as well as qualification levels of those working in the sector, Ramid said on February 22nd in Rabat.
He also promised to speed up the implementation of court rulings against the administration and draw up mandatory measures on the issue. An awareness-raising campaign will kick off soon to familiarise the public with their rights. The plans will be further enhanced by a national debate to be launched over the coming months.
A number of steps have been taken to reduce the amount of time it takes to process cases, particularly through the use of new technologies in courts all over the country.
If the reforms are to be successful, then professionals need to be consulted throughout the process to introduce new legal tools, according to lawyer and politician Mohamed Ansari. The experience has shown that if people affected by the new laws are not involved in the work to develop them, then they will fail, he added.
In this regard, the justice minister vowed to launch a system of consultation with professionals to make the reform process a success.
"The plans will be published on the Internet for prior consultation with the various parties before they are sent forward to the legislative process," he told MPs. Moreover, Ramid promised "not to interfere in the courts in any way".
The minister also pledged to clamp down on graft. He called for the protection of witnesses in corruption cases. The first case to be brought before the courts concerns a judge who was caught red-handed in January in Tangiers by the National Brigade of Judicial Police (BNPJ). The magistrate was suspected of receiving 250,000 dirhams from an investor.
Many people are optimistic that the minister will follow through on his promises.
"Ramid is known for his courage," Ansari said. "I hope he'll keep those qualities intact."
Among other issues that the new minister needs to tackle is that of Salafist detainees. Following his appointment, some have benefited from a royal pardon at his request. Ramid advocated a reconciliatory approach to the issue, with pardons granted to those who proved that they are not a threat to national security. That procedure, he said, should follow a national debate between detained Salafists and those who were released, along with ulemas.
According to political analyst Ahmed Mounadi, freed Salafists have a huge responsibility to spread the culture of tolerance and middle-ground Islam among young people who can fall into the abyss of fanaticism.
"The dialogue that Ramid wants to launch is a good initiative for correcting the wrong idea that some citizens have of Islam," Mounadi said.
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