IER, between the young and the old guard

29 March 2005 by Emmanuel Chicon and Benjamin Bibas

The Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) will soon complete its report that should theoretically be submitted to the King by mid-April (see IJT n° 15 and 19). The signs are that this transitional justice process is still controlled by the Palace (or Makhzen), which runs the kingdom. But the young guard may find the recent rise in Islamism a useful argument for strengthening its position.

It must be remembered that the Commission was set up at lightning speed. The Consultative Committee on Human Rights (CCDH), a group of 40 personalities chosen by the Palace, suggested setting up the Commission in November 2003. Barely a month later, members of the IER were duly appointed. The political context was tense: at the close of 2003, the United Nations, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Amnesty International were all denouncing Morocco's brutal treatment of those behind the May attacks in Casablanca, which resulted in the arrest of 2,000 fundamentalists, some of whom were tortured at the national security headquarters. Local 'civil society', which since the 1990s had been calling for the creation of a commission to shed light on human rights violations committed under the reign of Hassan II, was associated in appearance with the setting up of the IER. Palace emissaries such as the powerful Minister of the Interior, Fouad El Himma, dealt directly with the founders of the Truth and Justice Forum, Driss Benzekri and Salah El Ouadie, former key figures in the extreme left who enjoyed solid moral credibility.

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