Morocco – Whistleblowing Protection, Overview

1. Present legal environment

Morocco currently affords no protection to whistleblowers and/or others reporting instances of corruption and bribery; this is particularly so further up the hierarchy of organisations.

In 2010 the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index reported:

“Whistleblowers in the army who exposed the corrupted behavior of higher-ranking officers were prosecuted and handed heavy jail sentences”1.

Further, Morocco’s whistleblower protection was rated ‘very weak’ on the Global Integrity 2008 Report2.

Morocco’s Anti-Corruption Commission—L’Instance Centrale de Prevention de la Corruption (ICPC)—initiated draft legislation to provide legal protection for whistleblowers reporting corruption together with trial witnesses and experts, and the Moroccan parliament passed the legislation into law in October 20113. Under the law, judges and prosecutors are able to safeguard witnesses and their families via various means, such as, the granting of safe houses and the establishment of new identities. Reports pertaining to this law, however, suggest that it is substantially geared towards witness protection rather than pertaining specifically towards protecting whistleblowers.

Nevertheless, a more thorough anti-corruption regulatory framework does exist in Morocco and is further discussed below.

2. Information environment

In Morocco, while there is no specific freedom of information law, the law does provide broadly for speech and press freedoms.

Freedom of the press continues to be restricted by government through the legal system. Specifically, Moroccan law prevents citizens/press from either criticising Islam or the monarchy and state institutions; or from opposing the government’s official position regarding territorial integrity and the Western Sahara4.

Journalists and publishers who violate these prohibitions face financial penalties imposed under the press code and anti-terror law. Additionally, licences may be revoked and government may confiscate publications. Despite these prohibitions, press freedom to report military, national security, and sexuality matters, remains.

3. Present situation – Anti-corruption

Morocco’s laws and legal mechanisms aimed at eradicating corruption are:

  1. The Office of the Ombudsman was established in 2001, by decree 1-01-298, to provide oversight of the Moroccan administration’s activities and plays a part in opposing corruption. According to the Report, the Ombudsman is at risk of being influenced by political and personal incentives and abuses of power.

  2. A national cross-sector action plan comprising 6 key focus areas to battle corruption, was drafted by the Moroccan government in 2005. While some administrative procedures have been streamlined by the plan, its overall implementation has been largely gradual and ineffectual. The 6 areas the plan targeted for intervention were: “the anchoring of anti-corruption values and norms in society, the institutionalisation of the strategy of prevention, strengthening transparency in public procurement, strengthening of control and auditing mechanisms, simplifying the administrative procedures, and finally awareness raising.”5

  3. In May 2007 Morocco ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. However, Morocco remains the only African country that has not signed the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

  4. Corruption (active and passive) is criminalised under articles 241 to 256 of the Criminal Code and penalties range from fines to jail terms.

  5. The Moroccan government established the ICPC by decree 2-05-1228 in 2008. The King appoints the ICPC chairman and is the body is subject to political influence. The ICPC has three main missions, these include the co-ordinatation of anti-corruption policies; the oversight of policies and monitoring of their implementation; compilation and dissemination of information relating to corruption. They are tasked primarily with:

    • “proposing to government the main directions of a corruption prevention policy, particularly with regard to co-operation between the public and private sectors to combat corruption;

    • proposing measures to raise public awareness and organising information campaigns for that purpose; contributing, in co-operation with the administrations and bodies concerned, to the development of international co-operation in the prevention of corruption; ensuring the follow-up and assessment of measures taken to implement government policy with regard to corruption and making recommendations to administrations, public bodies, private enterprises and all other actors in corruption prevention policy;

    • providing the administrative authorities with opinions on measures that might be taken to prevent corrupt transactions; collecting all types of information relating to corruption and managing the related database; and informing the competent judicial authority of all the facts brought to its attention in the course of its work which it feels might constitute acts of corruption punishable by Act.”6

The decree does not mention in the ICPC’s role in ensuring protections for whistleblowers. The Moroccan government revealed a 2-year anti-corruption plan in 2010, which included application of procedures including mandating high-ranking officials asset declarations; protection for whistleblowers by government; and channels for public reporting of graft and extortion by government officials. The plan has been criticised for not seeking the input of civil society in formulating these measures.

Last modified: January 28 2014.


1 http://www.bti-project.org/reports/country-reports/mena/mar/2010/index.nc#chap15

2 https://www.globalintegrity.org/global/the-global-integrity-report-2008/morocco/

3 http://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/where_we_work/middle_east/morocco/news/news_morocco_witness_whistleblower_protection_law_approved_1111.html

4 http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/nea/204390.htm

5 http://www.business-anti-corruption.cn/country-profiles/middle-east-north-africa/morocco/initiatives/public-anti-corruption-initiatives.aspx

6 http://www.iaaca.org/AntiCorruptionAuthorities/ByCountriesandRegions/M/Moroccojigou/201202/t20120210_802435.shtml