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06RABAT399 2006-03-03 15:58:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Rabat
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1. This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
protect accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary: The American Bar Association (ABA) has
MEPI and DRL funds to implement "rule of law" reform changes
in Morocco. One of the MEPI funded programs is "judicial
development" (reftel A). In light of the need to engage
civil society in the reform process, ABA is currently working
with a newly established Moroccan nongovernmental
organization (NGO), Adala (Justice). Adala's intention is to
promote judicial reform and transparency. The first step in
this process was a conference on "autonomy of the judiciary."
Since the February 2-4 conference, Adala has become involved
in the judicial aspects of the freedom of press cases
outlined in reftel C. Becoming involved in these press cases
is a substantive expression of the seriousness with which
Adala is taking its reform role. End Summary.

3. (U) February 2-4, Adala held a conference on the autonomy
of the judiciary in Rabat. A seven-page article on the
conference appeared in As-Sahifa, an Arabic-language weekly,
on February 10. Participating in the conference were
Moroccan lawyers (Note: No Moroccan judges attended the
conference. End Note.), the president of the Algerian Judges
Syndicate, the president of the Human Rights Court in Quebec,
Canada; representatives of the French Embassy in Rabat;
Amnesty International; Transparency Maroc; and the European
Union NGO ILAC. (Comment: ILAC works on rebuilding legal
systems. End Comment.) Members of three political parties
also participated: the Justice and Development Party (PJD),
the Popular Socialist Party (PPS) and the Socialist Union of
Popular Forces (USFP).

4. (U) According to As-Sahifa, the conference called for an
independent judiciary which is not subjugated to the
executive branch of government. The constitution of Morocco
reads that the judicial branch is to be autonomous; however,
in practice, the executive branch, as represented by the
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the King, control the
judiciary. Papers presented at the conference argued that in
order for the "rule of law" to be established the judiciary
must be separate from both the legislative and the executive
branches of the government. Speakers discussed the
intervention of the executive branch in all aspects of the
judiciary, e.g., the competitive examinations and
appointments, as well as the curtailing of professional and
private activities of judges, i.e., judges must obtain
permission from the MOJ before participating in functions,
events or any activity.

5. (U) The As-Sahifa article noted that judges are poorly
trained and there are no constitutional guarantees to ensure
autonomy. Without ethical standards and autonomy, according
to As-Sahifa's reporting of the conference, the participants
agreed that the judiciary cannot function. The MOJ and the
Ministry of the Interior (MOI) interferes with judges'
decisions, according to the conference participants.

6. (SBU) As-Sahifa's reporting on the conference indicates
that the participants believe that there is resistance to
reform of the judiciary. This resistance is proven by the
MOJ's intense involvement with the judiciary as the
professional evaluator and as a prosecutor for perceived
wrongs. With the King chairing the higher council of the
judiciary, the judiciary is an arm of the executive branch,
according to the participants.

7. (SBU) Comment: Adala's tackling of the issue of
judicial transparency and professional standards is a welcome
reform voice on the Moroccan scene. It is the only NGO
attempting to change the way an entire branch of government
does business. Coupled with the recent reform
recommendations made by the Equity and Reconciliation
Commission (IER) and accepted by the King (reftel B), an open
dialogue exists in which positive change may occur. End

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