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Morocco: Draft Law Introduced to Protect Whistle-Blowers in Corruption Cases

(Oct. 8, 2019) On February 15, 2019, the Moroccan Minister of Administration and Public Service announced the introduction of a new draft law to protect whistle-blowers. The draft law is intended to fulfill Morocco’s commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption to enact relevant domestic laws, in this case by protecting public officials who act to uncover corruption in government agencies.

The government of Morocco has initiated an ambitious program of public service reform to increase accountability and transparency in the public sector. As a result, collective efforts have been made to reinforce existing anti-corruption laws with legislation to protect public officials who report corruption from any adverse actions that threaten their employment.

Anti-Corruption Provisions in Morocco’s Criminal Code

The Moroccan Criminal Code, issued in 1963, dedicates section IV to addressing corruption-related crimes. For example, article 248 establishes the punishments for corruption offenses committed by public officials, penalizing the seeking or receiving of bribes by imprisonment from two to five years and up to 50,000 dirhams (about US$5,145) in fines. Notably, article 253 stipulates that when the corruption of a judge results in his/her imposing a criminal sentence on an accused individual, the same sentence must be applied to the corrupt judge.

Notable Past Measures to Combat Corruption in Morocco

Corruption is widespread in Morocco, in both the private sector and in government agencies. High-ranking military officers and wealthy businessmen profit from pervasive public acceptance of corrupt conduct. Therefore, the Moroccan government has accelerated its anti-corruption efforts by instituting several steps to establish a national anti-corruption program.

On May 3, 2016, the government launched a national anti-corruption strategy. The strategy incorporated an anti-corruption awareness campaign to educate the public about anti-bribery and corruption legislation.

Additionally, in an effort to spread a culture of transparency, the government has implemented measures to improve the electronic conversion of public records, aspiring to digitize all printed materials to enhance public access and oversight.

In December 2018, the Moroccan government appointed a new president for the national anti-corruption authority. This government body is tasked by Morocco’s constitution with drafting anti-corruption polices, raising awareness of high ethical standards among the citizens of Morocco, and reinforcing the values of the rule of law.

This article was written by John Al Saddy, Foreign Law Consultant, under the supervision of Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek.