The Moroccan Judges Club has leveled serious accusations on Saturday in a statement against Morocco’s Justice Minister, Abdellatif Ouahbi, for what they perceive as undermining the judiciary’s autonomy and integrity. This criticism comes in response to Ouahbi’s recent comments where he said that judicial verdicts often exceed the stipulations of the law.
Ouahbi made these remarks during a parliamentary session on Tuesday focused on voting for an alternative penalties law. He contended that the harshness of judicial decisions is partially attributed to the extensive scope of the penal code, which allows for sentences ranging from ten years to life imprisonment.
In his address, Ouahbi said that Moroccan judicial decisions are harsh, indicating that those deserving one year in prison often receive five, and those meriting a ten-year sentence might end up with twenty.
The minister argued that this latitude provides judges with the discretion to impose heavy penalties, even when mitigating circumstances are taken into account.
Ouahbi also voiced his opposition to incarcerating children and minors involved in disturbances at football stadiums, arguing that imprisoning juveniles could jeopardize their education and future, exposing them to potential harm.
The Moroccan Judges Club expressed their dismay of Ouahbi’s remarks.
The club’s statement raised concerns about the appropriateness of such statements coming from the Justice Minister, who is expected to uphold the utmost standards of responsibility and respect for other state institutions, particularly the judiciary.
The judges emphasized the gravity of these repeated comments by the Minister of Justice.
According to the Moroccan Judges Club, Wahbi’s statements constitute a direct and severe blow to the judiciary’s dignity, reputation, authority, and independence.
The judges reiterated that, as per Article 107 of the constitution, the judiciary operates independently of the executive branch. Therefore, the Justice Minister, as a government official, does not have the authority to monitor and evaluate court decisions issued in the name of the king. The law provides specific avenues for appealing court verdicts.
The statement underscored the importance of adhering to the objectives laid out in its fundamental law’s Article 4, in accordance with constitutional requirements, laws, royal directives, and relevant international agreements and declarations.