Government spokesman Mustapha Baitas said the government is working to address the problem of prison overcrowding. The accommodation capacities of the penitentiaries will be increased and others will be replaced.
Responding to questions during the oral question session in the House of Representatives, the spokesperson for the executive recognized that prison overcrowding was real in Morocco, indicating in this regard that the prison of Al Ajat, in the region of Salé, is an example because “the judicial district to which he belongs includes seven courts”, according to data from the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration.
The same government official indicated that the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration had taken a series of measures to reduce overcrowding inside prison establishments, including the opening of 23 prison establishments from 2014 to 2022, in addition to the construction of three prisons with a capacity of 5730 places.
And to indicate that the General Delegation for Prison Administration has set up a program aimed at increasing the reception capacity of prison establishments, since it proposes to replace eleven old prison establishments with new ones and to build eleven others.
In order to impose discipline and reduce the danger of some detainees inside the penitentiary establishments, Baitas said that the delegation has put in place a number of measures, including the creation of wards for the benefit of dangerous detainees and the launch of the “coexistence” program.
On the other hand, the Minister acknowledged the low track record of participatory democracy of civil society, despite the new roles that the constitution has given to associations, considering that the track record of the petition mechanism is modest.
In order to overcome the weakness of the work of civil society at the level of participatory democracy, the same government official indicated that associations must be supported to contribute to participatory democracy at the local level.
The Minister Delegate in charge of Relations with Parliament and Civil Society praised the work carried out by the associations, considering that they ” contribute to a set of actions that are supposed to be carried out by the public authorities”.
In addition, the DGAPR provides infrastructure in accordance with the required standards, particularly in terms of space, ventilation and lighting.
This infrastructure allows an appropriate classification of detainees and the implementation of rehabilitation programs and activities, specified the DGAPR in its annual activity report for the year 2021, noting that two new penitentiary establishments have been inaugurated. in 2021 in Dakhla and Assilah with a total capacity of 1,580 beds.
Dwelling on the accommodation capacity of prisons until the end of December 2021, the report mentions 171,217 square meters, at the rate of 1.93 square meters for each prisoner, and this with a view to planning the construction of new prisons to support the high number of detainees and deal with prison overcrowding, in the wake of the justice reform project aimed at rationalizing pre-trial detention and adopting alternative sentences.
With regard to the improvement in the prison environment, the DGAPR indicates that it was decided during the year 2021 to equip the kitchens of several penitentiary establishments, in particular in Dakhla, Assilah, Taza and Benguerir, the Reform Center and rehabilitation of Ain Sebaâ, as well as the central prison of Kénitra, able to humanize the conditions of detention within these establishments in terms of individual and collective hygiene (hairdressing, washing of clothes and blankets, etc.).
In addition, 289 civil servants benefited from training sessions on human rights and the prevention of torture in 2021, which remains below what was usually recorded in the pre-Covid-19 years, at because of the sanitary and precautionary measures taken to protect people against infection.
Similarly, some 412 prison officials and 1,212 trainees, all categories combined, benefited from basic training sessions to develop their skills and knowledge in prison management, continues the DGAPR, which highlighted its specialized master’s degree. “Penitentiary establishment: prevention and reintegration”, currently in its 4th promotion.
At the end of its report, the DGAPR launched a new strategic plan (2022-2026), based on six main areas, namely support for reintegration preparation programs, strengthening safety and security in prisons, the humanization of detention conditions, support for health action in prisons, development of human resources and strengthening of governance and communication, cooperation and partnerships.