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Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits torture, and the Government denied the use of torture; however, some members of the security forces tortured or otherwise abused detainees. The Penal Code stipulates sentences up to life imprisonment for public servants who use or oblige the use of violence against others in the exercise of their official duties. By law, pretrial-investigating judges must, if asked to do so or if they themselves notice physical marks that so warrant, refer the detained person to an expert in forensic medicine. However, according to human rights groups, judges often ignored this requirement in practice, which called into question the Government's commitment to resolving the problem.
Attorneys for some persons convicted under the new anti-terrorism law claimed their clients were convicted on the basis of confessions coerced by torture. For example, according to the OMDH, in early August, at the Court of Appeal in Fez, most of the 29 accused of terrorist involvement stated that they had been tortured; judicial authorities refused to order any medical examinations.
In October after a mission to the country, AI reported a sharp rise in the number of cases of torture or ill treatment in the last 2 years. Allegations generally involved detainees held during an illegally extended period of pre-arraignment detention.
The Government continued to admit past torture and abuses. While its mandate was not to prosecute those responsible, the Royal Arbitration Commission continued to hear and rule on claims and offer restitution to victims and has permitted human rights groups to organize conferences on the subject.
During the year on a number of occasions, police violently dispersed demonstrators (see Section 2.b.).
Prison conditions remained extremely poor, and did not generally meet international standards, despite some improvements in medical care and efforts to expand capacity. There were separate facilities for men, women and minors. Pretrial detainees were not held separately from convicts.
Extreme overcrowding, malnutrition, and lack of hygiene continued to aggravate the poor health conditions inside prisons.
In January, a local NGO, the Moroccan Prison Observatory (OMP) reported that the population in the country's 46 prisons, which were designed for 39,000 had reached 59,000 prisoners. The OMP reported that food, hygiene and medical conditions were grossly inadequate, with a daily budget of only $1.30 (13 DH) per prisoner.
In June 2002, the OMP alleged that 12 percent of prisoners were minors that the prison administration failed to protect. The OMP continued to call attention to problems of corruption, maltreatment, malnutrition, sexual abuse, lack of training and education, drug abuse and violence within the prisons, as well as the issue of incarcerating first-time offenders with hardened criminals.
The Government permitted some independent monitors to visit prisons; however, some monitors were refused entry to the country to have access to alleged political prisoners.
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