Morocco: a rapporteur calls on the authorities not to apply the death penalty

Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the abolition of the death penalty, condemned the death sentences handed down recently in Morocco in the trial concerning the murder of two Scandinavian tourists in December 2018.

"I welcome Morocco's commitment to the fight against international terrorism and strongly deplore the cruel murder of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland," the rapporteur said. "However, neither the fight against terrorism nor the most serious crimes can justify the death penalty. The use of other criminal sanctions should be considered to punish the perpetrators of this atrocious crime, he added.

On 18 July, the Criminal Chamber of the Rabat Court of Appeal (Salé Annex) sentenced three men involved in the murder of two Scandinavian tourists - Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland - beheaded in Daech's name in December 2018 to death. The judgment is not final.

"I call on the Moroccan authorities not to apply the death penalty, in accordance with the de facto moratorium in place since 1993, while continuing their efforts in the fight against international terrorism, in particular Daesh, declared Mr Corlatean.

"In addition, I call on the Moroccan Parliament to abolish the death penalty in the Penal Code entirely, in line with the expectations expressed by the Assembly when granting the status of "Partner for Democracy" in 2011 and the last assessment of this status in April 2019, he concluded.

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By obtaining the status of "Partner for Democracy" with the Assembly, the Moroccan Parliament undertook to continue its efforts "to raise awareness among the public authorities as well as political actors and civil society in order to advance the ongoing reflection on capital punishment issues", and to continue "to encourage the competent authorities to continue the de facto moratorium on executions of the death penalty existing since 1993".

In its last evaluation of the Partnership for Democracy, last April, the Assembly expressed concern that Moroccan courts continue to impose the death penalty. She reiterated her call on the Moroccan Parliament "to work towards the abolition of the death penalty and, pending its implementation, to promote a legal moratorium on executions".