AMLEN

AMERICAN MOROCCAN LEGAL EMPOWEREMENT NETWORK
Subscribe

The Moroccan Constitution since 2011- Meeting with the Washington DC community

October 29, 2015 By: Sarah Category: The situation

863e97bf74d3ef6bd9f8cbf001a9eef7_LThe Council of Moroccan Living Abroad- CCME held its first symposium in the US on October 23, 2015 in the outskirts of Washington DC. The event was to engage the community in the very pressing topic of the Moroccan constitution and the implementation of the 5 articles related to the Moroccans Living Abroad as highlighted by his Majesty King Mohamed VI.
Given the nature of the event, the working session was the opportunity to provide both concerns, challenges and recommendations and converse with community activists, diplomatic representatives, members of the academia, science and technology, the media, religious affairs, civil society, legal and political experts.

Was also present briefly, his Excellency Ambassador Mr. Rachad Bouhlal and the diplomatic representatives from the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, Mr. Rahhaly and Mr. Rahmouni and Mrs. Tayebi from the Moroccan Consulate.

IMG_0004

Even though the meeting was only for one day, the exchange revealed serious flaws about certain assumptions such as the notion that there are only 150,000 Moroccans in the US which is a low number considering that the Moroccan migration to the United States started in the 1980’s and was accelerated by the Green Card Lottery program that takes pl
ace annually. The current make-up of the Moroccan community in the US is so diversified that the CCME has made a special mention to recommend better mechanisms to conduct a census of the American Moroccan community knowing that there is large community of students, children born to one Moroccan parent, community members in the West Coast or away from the Moroccan consulate in New York who are not able to register and obtain the Consular card for instance.

The event tackled the question of the language and culture, and how Morocco should become open to the English language now that a great part of the second and third or even first generation of Moroccans are either residing in English speaking countries like the US or are born in those societies where English is prevalent. This topic has always been a concern for the Moroccan American community as shared by Dr. Mohamed Belkhayat, Principal scientist in Electronics and Electrical engineering, who stated that more efforts should be made to ensure that the second generations of Moroccan Americans are able to communicate with their country-men in Morocco, but more importantly, English is the language of the future and the language of technology is we want Morocco to become competitive in the global markets. Also, the Moroccan culture should become a major elemIMG_0102ent for policy makers in Morocco as a tool to bridge the gap and market the country as a destination for art, tradition, modernity, tolerance and history as illustrated by our local resident artist and professor at George Mason University, Nadia Duchelle.

Mr. Boubker Abisourour, retired World Bank officer and Founder of the Ibn Battouta Academy for Arabic, was present as well as a trailblazer within the community in establishing the first school that catered to American children born to Moroccan parents and was teaching Arabic, Islamic studies and French based on the Moroccan curriculum.

The CCME members who came from Europe and Africa: Abdelhamid El Jamri (France), Hamid Bichri (Italy), Najat Azmy (France), Mohamed Moussaoui (France), Mohamed Faris (Senegal) and Kamal Rahmouni (Spain) shared their experiences and their concerns about the political participation of the Moroccan American community and the absence of this community in the American political process. Further clarifications were brought forth by the Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, Mr. Jean Abinader who insisted that all politics are local and that our community needs to become more engaged with the political arena starting with small steps at the local schools and municipal levels for instance, in addition to learning from early Arab settlers and building coalitions with other minority groups.

The conversation also included the religious aspect of this community and the great gap when it comes to Moroccan Malikite-based institutions, mosques and houses of worship. Up to this day, Moroccan American mosques in the US are scarce if not absent and so are religious figures within our community that can lead the effort of sharing the Islamic faith within the frame of the Moroccan cultuIMG_0153re of respect, understanding and moderation. Dr. Al Aziz Eddebbarh, retired scientist and attendee of the Hartford Seminary in Islamic Champlaincy, flew all the way from Las Vegas to share the need for more religious collaboration between the US and Morocco through the various institutions currently offering Islamic Chaplaincy programs in the US and the need to extend current programs in Morocco beyond the immediate borders.

Also, the discussion about the science, research, education and technology was very passionate as we learned from Dr. Mohamed Bourdi, Dr. and Researcher in Phycology at the world-renown National Institute of Health, about the near absence of Moroccan scientific publications due mainly to the English language not gaining fluency in Morocco yet and the disconnect that exists between academic institutions in Morocco and the scientific diaspora who is willing to go to Morocco and share knowledge and best practices.IMG_0040

Last but not least, the issue of social and youth challenges in the US was discussed. There is still a large number of community members who are not able to integrate the American way of life which is dependent on learning the language and accessing services. Many do come from Morocco with very or no English knowledge and are unable to move forward professionally due to the language barrier which forces many of them into low paying jobs and poor level of opportunities. On a more dramatic end, there is a lack of awareness and support system for new comers and families in difficult situation, special attention must be paid to mothers with children who are facing challenges such as displacement, violence or homelessness as emphasizes by Mr. Moulydriss Aloumouati, Supervisor at the Social services for Fairfax County in Virginia.

 

IMG_0088Overall, the event was a great opportunity for the CCME members to get to know members of the Moroccan American community in the Greater Washington DC Metro and be able to share some of their experiences and input through the CCME’s recommendations to policy makers in Morocco and His Majesty King Mohamed VI.

As confirmed by the CCME representative in the US, Mrs. Nadia Serhani, the event that brought together all these actors and representatives was successful in setting the tone for future events to be held in the US with other Moroccan communities to shed the light on their challenges and consolidate their input and recommendations in an effort to present these findings as a final CCME report to inform policy makers and especially ensure that the articles of the constitution related to the Moroccan community abroad are put in place through the establishment of organic laws based on these various feedback.IMG_0078

Last, the CCME seeks to help policy makers in Morocco to implement the articles of the constitution by engaging the various stakeholders to include the Moroccans of the world in the process of creating these organic laws and to include them as directed by his Majesty King Mohamed VI in the various governmental institutions as full fledged citizens of Morocco with a seat at the table.

IMG_0085    IMG_0258

 

Divorce or Annulment – Clarifications and Definitions under U.S family Law

April 12, 2015 By: Sarah Category: The situation

div.

 

Divorce is the legal process for ending a marriage.

Divorce can be difficult, particularly if childrenproperty and other assets are involved. There are several steps to the process – regardless of the specific situation – that must be followed to clear up all issues when a marriage ends.

No-Fault

A no-fault divorce occurs when a couple seeks to end to their marriage without stating a reason for the dissolution of the union. Most states allow this type of divorce. Often, a reason must be stated for the divorce. Most of the time, it is fine to declare the cause for the termination of the marriage as either “irreconcilable differences” or “incompatibility.”

Note: Some states require that a couple live apart for a specified period of time to obtain a no-fault declaration of divorce.

Fault

A fault-based divorce is one granted when the grounds stated by at least one spouse are accepted by the court. Not every state allows a fault-based divorce. Common faults include the following:

  • Cruelty – This often refers to excessive emotional or physical pain inflicted by one spouse towards the other.
  • Adultery – This refers to allegations that a spouse has been unfaithful during the course of the marriage.
  • Desertion – This refers to a spouse who simple leaves for a specified period of time. Each state has specific requirements as grounds for desertion.
  • Confinement in prison – This is when one spouse is sentenced to incarceration for a specific period of time.
  • Physical inability to engage in marital relations – This refers to either the inability to engage in sexual intercourse or the refusal to do so.

Options Prior to Divorce

Before ending a marriage, there are other avenues that can be taken before the dissolution of a marriage becomes permanent:

  • Trial separation – This is a period of time when the couple agrees to separate before deciding to officially end a marriage. This option is a private agreement between each spouse.
  • Living apart – Some states consider any debt or assets obtained during this period to be non-marital property. However, some states consider debts that are accumulated during separation to be joint debts until an actual divorce takes place.
  • Legal separation – This type of separation occurs when a couple chooses to separate and they go through a court to decide on matters such as division of assets, property, and debt, as well as issues concerning custody, visitation, and child support.

How to File for Divorce

  • File a petition for divorce with the local divorce court.
  • Temporary orders may be issued by the court to address immediate issues until the marriage is legally dissolved.
  • Preparation for the termination of a marriage often includes the following legal steps:
    • Disclosures
    • Interrogatories
    • Admissions of Fact
    • Request for Production
    • Depositions
  • Mediation is the process where both parties attempt to come to an agreement on all issues related to the end of the marriage outside of court. Many states require mediation before a divorce can proceed in court. If mediation is not successful, the court will manage the divorce proceeding.
  • Settlement: If the spouses cannot come to a mutual agreement, a judge may determine marriage fair property division settlement when ending the marriage. If either party is not satisfied with the decision, an appeal is the next step.

A legal professional can provide assistance with divorce proceedings and related options such as legal separation. This may be especially helpful if property, assets, and debt incurred during the marriage have to be divided. Divorce is rarely an easy decision, but proper legal advice can make the process smoother.

An annulment:  allows you to dissolve a marriage such that, in the eyes of the law, it never existed; but only under the right circumstances.

Annulment Overview

Annulments are a way for the courts to declare that your marriage is null and void. Unlike a divorce, which is a legal way to end a marriage, an annulment actually states that you were never married at all. In order for this type of legal action to be approved, you have to show that there is some legal reason that your marriage was not valid at the time that you got married. Some of these types of marital dissolutions occur after years of marriage. In many cases, the party desiring the annulment must file within a certain amount of time after the marriage has taken place.

Situations that may prevent a marriage from being legal and valid include reasons such as bigamy, incest, underage parties, one or both parties being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and physical incapability of consummating the marriage. Other possible grounds include proxy marriages, in which one party is not physically present at the wedding, or mock marriages, where the parties had no real intention of entering into a real marriage with one another. Temporary insanity and diminished mental capacity are also grounds in many states, as is a marriage where one party was coerced or forced into marriage.

Criteria for Annulments

The criteria for nullifying a marriage varies from state to state. In many cases, some instances of a qualifying situation will be approved, but other similar cases may not. For example, a marriage made with a person who is under the age of 16 is not valid unless the marriage was entered into with parental consent. Another example is that of impotence, or being physically incapable of consummating the marriage. This is grounds for dissolving a marriage unless the other party was aware of the issue before the marriage. In some cases, the request must be made within a specified period of time after the marriage took place. Because the laws governing the dissolution of a marriage are much more stringent than those for a divorce, it is always best to consult a lawyer immediately if you think you have grounds for an annulment of your marriage.

Unlike a divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never happened. Because of this, there are often legal implications involved in dissolving the marriage. One issue that is affected is the legal parentage of any children born during the marriage. A judge may have to make an order specifically dealing with legal custody and child support rights with regard to both parents. In addition, community property laws may not apply to annulments in the same way they do to divorce cases. Spousal support and maintenance are also issues that may be impacted differently than in divorce cases. Consulting a lawyer in your area about the statutes pertaining to annulments in your state will help you navigate the process without losing any of your rights.

Source: LegalStreet

Summer University Program for the Moroccan Community Abroad – 2015

March 27, 2015 By: Sarah Category: The situation

Please click here for the The application form.

For more information, contact the Ministry of MRE at: info@mcmre.gov.ma

 

Moroccan Administration E-services for the Community overseas

March 27, 2015 By: Sarah Category: Get Involved, The situation

Morocco E-Services:

List of Public Service resources for the Moroccan Community living Abroad.

Documents Administratifs pour MRE / Legal Documents:
http://www.service-public.ma/
Etat civil – Carte nationale d’identité – Passeport
Carte d’enregistrement – Laissez-passer – Permis de conduire
Mariage – Naissance – Noms famille et prénoms – Décès
Dédouanement des véhicules automobiles – Retour au Maroc

Forum International des Compétences Marocaines à l’Etranger
http://www.maghribcom.gov.ma/

Guide douanier des MRE
http://www.douane.gov.ma/

Assistance au dédouanement des marchandise à l’importation en ligne
http://www.douane.gov.ma/adil/

Administration de la Douane et impôt indirect
http://www.douane.gov.ma/web/guest

Ministère de l’Emploi et de la formation professionnelle
http://www.emploi.gov.ma

Droits et démarches des MRE
http://www.service-public.ma

Conseil national des droits de l’homme
http://www.ccdh.org.ma/
Email : ccdh@ccdh.org.ma

Le médiateur / Institution Al-Wassit
Complexe des jardins IRAM, Rue Arromane,Hay riad, Rabat
Contacts
Tél : 0537564819
Fax : 0537564280

Conseil de la communauté marocaine à l’étranger
Mahaj Ryad. Imm 10. Hay Ryad – Rabat 10 000
Tél : 0537566633
www.ccme.org.ma

Haute autorité de la communication audiovisuelle
Espace les palmiers, Lot 26, Angle Avenues Anakhil et Mehdi Ben Barka,- Hay Ryad Rabat
Tél : 0537579600
Fax : 0537717274
Email : info@haca.ma / www.haca.ma

L’instance nationale de la probité, de la prévention et de la lutte contre la corruption
http://www.icpc.ma/
Email : icpc@icpc.ma

Le conseil supérieur de l’éducation, de la formation et de la recherche scientifique
Avenue Allal El Fassi-Madinat Al Irfane – Rabat
Tél : 0537774425
Fax : 0537774612

Conseil constitutionnel
Place Ach-Chouhada BP 10000 Rabat Maroc
Tél : 0537 73 72 82
Fax : 0537 72 80 02
Email : contact@conseil-constitutionnel.ma

Parliament
http://www.parlement.ma/

Caisses de Retraite/Retirement
http://www.cmr.gov.ma/
https://www.cnra.ma/cnraweb/
https://www.rcar.ma/

AMLEN’s Participation at the: Caught between Family Laws Conference: Gender, Law and Religion – Experiences from Denmark and Morocco

December 17, 2014 By: Sarah Category: The situation

On the occasion of the 10 years of the reformed Moroccan family code, KVINFO, the Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity, in cooperation with ARPA International and Copenhagen University organized an international conference, under the theme: Caught between Family Laws: Gender, Law and Religion – Experiences from Denmark and Morocco, on December 4-5th, 2014 in Copenhagen.

The two day Conference, the first of its kind in Denmark, provided an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of the impact of the implementation of the Family Code reforms outside Morocco; and provide an assessment of the legal barriers restricting women of the Diaspora’s ability to exercise their rights under the family law, 10 years after its passage. AMLEN’s Leila Hanafi chaired the opening day of the Conference.

For this occasion, a Stocktaking Note Access to Justice for Moroccan Women Residing Abroad through the Lens of Family Law was published following the program by Leila Hanafi, President and Chief Counsel of ARPA International, accessible at: http://kvinfo.dk/sites/default/files/stocktaking_note_2014.pdf

Morocco World News Article: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/12/147209/moroccan-women-residing-abroad-prospects-of-legal-protection-under-the-moudawana/

Maghreb Arab Press/Agence Marocaine de Presse: http://www.mapexpress.ma/actualite/opinions-et-debats/marocaines-du-monde-regards-croises-copenhague-lacces-justice/

AMLEN’s Participation at the: Caught between Family Laws Conference: Gender, Law and Religion – Experiences from Denmark and Moroccopanels

Photo credit to Jens Juul

AMLEN CONDOLENCES FOR THE LOSS OF Abdellah Baha

December 10, 2014 By: Sarah Category: The situation

It is with deep sadness and sorrow that we learned as many Moroccans around the world of the passing of the esteemed and compassionate Statesman Mr. Abdellah Baha, in a tragic accident in Bouznika on Sunday December 7th, 2014.

This is a great loss to the entire nation, the PJD and the Moroccan political scene where he was highly revered . He was mostly known as someone who always sought the middle ground, the greater good for the people of Morocco through the power of collaboration, sane reasoning and a wise adherence to the principles of our faith.

The legacy of Mr. Baha will live on, and he will always be remembered as an outstanding
Political man by all.

Our heartfelt condolences to his surviving family all patience in these difficult times.

Moroccan Diaspora and Political Rights: Transforming Democratic Representativeness?

August 01, 2014 By: Sarah Category: The situation

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/07/135652/moroccan-diaspora-and-political-rights-transforming-democratic-representativeness/

Stocktaking report of engaging Moroccan Diaspora co-authored by AMLEM’s Leila Hanafi as Diaspora appointee in the Moroccan Commission on National Dialogue & New Constitutional Prerogatives

July 02, 2014 By: Sarah Category: The situation

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/05/131603/moroccan-commission-on-national-dialogue-towards-enhanced-engagement-of-mra/

Beyond the law: Protecting Morocco’s women

March 02, 2014 By: Sarah Category: Press

In a February article published in Al Jazeera, Leila Hanafi and Sarah Alaoui discuss recommendations to protecting women in Morocco against violence:

At a conference on gender violence held in Rabat, Morocco in late January, UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo commended the country on its recently introduced draft bill protecting women against violence. The Moroccan government paid attention to the issue following a 2006 United Nations study showed the extent to which violence prevented women from fulfilling their potential, restricted economic growth and undermined development.

Given the exigent consequences of violence against women on the economic welfare of communities, it became one of Morocco’s pressing obligations to seriously address the issue. However, despite the advances Moroccan legislation made to improve women’s rights, they remained hindered by several obstacles.

Many are aware of the grim story of 16-year-old Amina Filali’s forced marriage to her alleged rapist and subsequent suicide that threw Morocco’s Article 475 into international headlines. The article protects a rapist from prosecution if he married his victim. Following efforts by grassroots activists, and an Avaaz petition to repeal it, the article reemerged into the spotlight this month when it was repealed by the country’s parliament.

Though the abrogation is a positive step forward, yet Article 475 is only the tip of the iceberg. Amina’s fate, along with a number of complex issues afflicting Morocco including cracks in the justice system, gaping socioeconomic inequalities, and a need to comply with international standards, is one that can be prevented from haunting others.

A legal culture of impunity

The last few weeks in Morocco have seen heightening efforts by civil society and media campaigners to shed more light on gender violence in the country, a society in which both de facto and de jure shortcomings in women’s rights exist. Coupled with a deeply entrenched culture of impunity – especially with issues concerning honour – the country’s legal system suffers from bureaucratic weaknesses that stall investigation and implementation. Moreover, female victims of violence are often presumed to be accomplices and questions of consent overshadow the harm they’ve incurred.

Alleged rapists often receive the benefit of mediation with the blessings of legal aides, police and religious figures without facing prosecution. In order for women to feel protected against violence, a culture of zero tolerance for rape must be enforced.

Female victims of violence in Morocco need to feel that they can trust the system to protect their rights and bring them justice without having – oftentimes- to resort to extreme “solutions”. Their rehabilitation and safety must be emphasised as much as their honour has been.

Another notable weakness of the ability of the Moroccan legal system to protect victims is rooted in court delays, a feature typical of the country’s bureaucracy. There are multiple causes of delay including prolonged hearings; insufficient human and financial resources in courtrooms; mismanagement and disorganisation of court resources and caseload; inefficient legal procedures and court processes; and party delays.

Numerous legislative and administrative initiatives have been undertaken over the years to address these issues. And while many have been successful in their specific aims, the issue continues to be flagrant. An efficient and effective court system is crucial to the administration of justice to protect the rights of female victims of violence.

Disparities in resource access

There are several women’s rights groups and civil society actors in Morocco who work freely to promote gender equality and equal access to justice in the country. While their efforts have gained momentum in recent years, they are often challenged by a conservative culture – especially in underprivileged areas such as Amina’s village in the outskirts of Larache. In these places, there is little to no information on civil society groups and the services they provide.

Furthermore, few have conducted research on the human, material and financial resources of the civil society organisations working with rural women. As Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development Bassima Hakkaoui has repeatedly said[Fr], more resources and support must be allocated to women’s shelters. This falls under the need for greater coordination between the government and local actors to accurately target and fulfil the needs of these women.

Many rural areas lack basic infrastructure such as roads, which prevent civil society organisations usually based in major urban centers such as Rabat or Casablanca, to exert the same levels of influence in rural areas as they can in urban areas. Something as simple as a road can make the difference between whether a wronged woman in a village can obtain access to justice or not.

Many women, including Amina, who had to make trips from Larache to Tangier to attend court hearings, do not have physical access to legal aid or the resources of non-profit organisations. Many more are unaware or misinformed about their legal rights, and many lawyers refuse to take on pro-bono cases or lower their service rates for victims in rural areas. All women who have been subject to violence must have access to a legal counsel – justice should not have a price tag.

Compliance with international standards

It is not entirely true to say that progress has not been made on improving women’s rights in Morocco. Positive steps have been taken to amend the family law (the Moudawana). In urban areas these amendments have created a system for effectively dealing with the increased numbers of women filing domestic violence complaints within the court system. Article 336 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which previously only allowed women to take civil action against their husbands with prior authorisation from the court was also changed, now granting women equal access to the legal system.

In 2003, ammendements were made to the penal code to allow for heavier penalties on a spouse who inflicts harm upon the other spouse. Moreover, health care workers are now authorised to waive professional confidentiality agreements in cases of gender-based violence and to report such incidents to the appropriate authorities.

Morocco has also taken unprecedented steps in the country’s history to help eradicate discrimination against women and to improve gender equality by ratifying international instruments of human rights. The country is party to several international rights agreements including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

These are all encouraging steps forward in Morocco’s path to protecting women against violence and to preserving their rights. However, in order for their implementation to be effective, they need to be enforced in tandem with national legislation. By ratifying these international instruments, Morocco has committed to preventing discrimination against women and to assuring gender parity with regards to human rights. However, despite these international commitments, shortcomings in the status of women’s legal rights in Morocco still prevail.

A common discrepancy between implementation and international commitments, for example, is with the minimum age for marriage and Article 2 of the CEDAW which urges state parties to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions conform to this obligation.

Though Moroccan law sets the minimum age for marriage at 18 for both males and females, judges often waive this requirement at their own discretion, allowing female minors to get married. The laws are bent because culturally speaking, girls tend to marry far older men and are often married when they are under 18. This does not absolve Morocco of its responsibility to the stipulations of CEDAW and the need to comply with international standards.

Today, the advances Morocco has achieved since the millennium have contributed largely to improving many human development indicators, especially for women. The journey to protect Morocco’s women is on the right track, but it is far from over. It remains one of the many examples of how societies in the Middle East and North Africa are increasingly grappling with balancing tradition and the human imperative of making society more just for women.

Leila Hanafi is a Moroccan-American international lawyer, and policy expert from Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University, Washington DC, USA. Ms. Hanafi is the founder and chief lawyer at the international law firm and think-thank ARPA, the Alliance for Rule of Law Promotion & Alternative Dispute Resolution, in Washington DC, USA.

Sarah Alaoui is an independent writer currently based in Washington D.C. Her work focuses primarily on North Africa.

Interview with Leila Hanafi on How the Moroccan Diaspora is Pioneering Rule of Law Reform

March 02, 2014 By: Sarah Category: Press

Reinventing the Rules” interviews Leila Hanafi on how the Moroccan Diaspora is pioneering rule of law reform:

Interview with Leila Hanafi on How the Moroccan Diaspora is Pioneering Rule of Law Reform

If you don’t know by now, there are two things I’m passionate about promoting more of in the rule of law sector. The first is more youth-focused efforts and the other is increasing the role of Diaspora’s in this field. The Moroccan Diaspora has been active on both fronts! In 2011, Morocco took the unprecedented step of providing their Diaspora with guaranteed rights under their new constitution. The Diaspora is now pioneering the first round of virtual consultations around the world to receive feedback from Moroccan civil society organizations working abroad on just how they can become involved in rule of law efforts in Morocco. To learn more, scroll below to read my interview with Leila Hanafi, an appointee to the Moroccan commission on National Dialogue on Constitutional Reform.

Can you talk a little about how you’ve mobilized the Diaspora to participate in this process?

This is a landmark initiative in Morocco to use technology to engage with the Moroccan diaspora abroad. Although this consultative process also included physical consultations with the Diaspora in Europe, our Commission realized that it is not sufficient as the Moroccan Diaspora is dispersed across the world and not only concentrated in Europe. Here, it should be noted that Moroccan emigration evolved at an unprecedented pace starting from the 1960s. As a result, today Moroccans living abroad represent around 10% of the total population of the country (over 3.6 millions), and constitute the largest and most dispersed African immigrant population in Europe.

Can you also provide any background on the type of civil society organizations that have been involved in the consultations?

Thus far, the majority of organizations that have been active actors in the consultations are youth-oriented ones that mobilize the youthful population of Moroccans residing abroad as well as community-development oriented ones.

Much of the questions in the first round of consultations focused on the perception Moroccan civil society organizations abroad have of the new constitution and whether the mechanisms to enable inclusion of the Diaspora in decision-making processes are sufficient. Why was perception an important priority to start off with?

The focus on this perception analysis was deemed essential as it was never concluded before. As Morocco is concerting efforts to develop organic laws, starting with an analysis of perceptions is the precursor for cementing diaspora’s interest and understanding of what’s coming ahead; and also to promote the enhancement of an enabling environment for Diaspora engagement, including organic law development, and active participation in this consultative process.

As such, this virtual scoping exercise is informing the reporting to the National Commission on focus areas that ought to be priorities for the development of the organic law for public participation of Moroccan civil society outside the country.

The Moroccan Commission on National Dialogue and New Constitutional Prerogatives is currently compiling the responses you’ve received from your initial consultations. Any chance we can get some initial insight on what you’ve found so far from your consultations?

Yes, there is a general consensus that:

-As the number of Moroccans living abroad increases, the need to bring them under the protection of the constitution becomes essential.
-Boost Civic Engagement: Capacity building and technical assistance for Moroccan civil society groups active abroad that can contribute to preserving a Moroccan identity through development, linguistic, religious and cultural dimensions
-Need to enhance Participatory governance and the diaspora’s engagement and democratic representativeness remain an issue. More diaspora members should be present in consultative processes that are initiated by the Moroccan government: Participatory governance and the diaspora’s engagement and democratic representativeness remain an issue although the 2011 adopted constitution tackles the diaspora (i.e. Articles 16-17-18 -30-163).

In the West, Diaspora’s are often thought about almost exclusively in economic terms and the remittances they provide to families back home. How do you envision the Moroccan Diaspora’s role in engaging with rule of law efforts 5-10 years from now and what kind of efforts do you believe they can be most effective with?

The Moroccan Diaspora can facilitate the:

-Transfer of expertise and cross-fertilization of experiences from their host countries towards their home countries in the area of law making. To ensure that the process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient, inclusive approach with the Diaspora is essential.
-Policymakers in Morocco increasingly recognize the value that Diaspora populations bring to development efforts at home, not just as senders of remittances but also as sources of human capital and direct and indirect investments. Yet the existing mechanisms of Diaspora engagement, while positive, are insufficient if not integrated in a broad-based strategy, premised in an inclusive legal framework for positive engagement.
-It is particularly important in the wake of the Arab Spring as Morocco has adopted a revised constitution that tackles the rights of the Moroccan Diaspora. Participatory governance, Diaspora’s political rights, and democratic representativeness remain a key area for elaboration, notably that the 2011 adopted Constitution tackles Diaspora rights (i.e. Articles 16-17-18 -30-163). As the number of Moroccans living abroad increases, the need to bring them under the protection of the constitution becomes essential.

Also, it is worth noting that Morocco is part of many international legal instruments relating to human rights law. Some stipulations of the 2011 Moroccan Constitution declare that international conventions ratified by Morocco should be applicable directly as domestic law. Some of these provisions relate to the Moroccan Diaspora abroad. However, the non-economic aspect of diaspora contribution remains secondary. This is, particularly, relevant in terms of access to rights and the urgent need to focus on a rights-based approach when analyzing Moroccan Diaspora engagement.

Any tangible steps made in the ongoing development of Morocco cannot be successful without the healthy marriage of good governance and the active participation of its citizens not only inside Morocco but also OUTSIDE the country. This landmark initiative for Morocco- which has the potential to empower Moroccans, in their home country and abroad- to participate in policy-making, through mechanisms of public consultations and dialogue has the potential to inspire concerted actions and meaningful progress in ushering in a new era of participatory rule of law in Morocco.

What was one thing that surprised you to learn when working on these consultations?

The overwhelming responses not only from Moroccans residing abroad but also second- generation of Moroccans who were born and raised abroad and still fully engaged in Moroccan affairs

Leila Hanafi is a Moroccan American lawyer and the founder of the international law firm and think-thank ARPA, the Alliance for Rule of Law Promotion & Alternative Dispute Resolution, in Washington DC, USA.