June 17, 2024
Mohamed Salah Tamek (MST), back on the front lines against allegations of human rights abuses in the Kingdom of Morocco
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Mohamed Salah Tamek (MST), back on the front lines against allegations of human rights abuses in the Kingdom of Morocco

Mohamed Salah Tamek (MST), Head of the Moroccan Prison and Reintegration department of the Kingdom of Morocco, a credible and legitimate voice deconstructs some of the allegations in the 10 senators letter sent to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The remainder of the amalgamations and untruths of said letter will properly be answered in due course.


A letter signed by 10 members of the United States Senate on 10/14/2021 to Secretary of State Blinken.

Response from MST:

full transcription of Mohamed Saleh Tamek’s response to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:

Rabat, October 18, 2021

To His excellency Secretary of State

Washington DC

Excellency,

The letter signed by 10 American Senators addressed to the State Department in relation to the conflict in the Sahara is misplaced, fallacious and utterly biased. As the person in charge of Moroccan prisons, I will enlighten you, Mr Secretary of State and your team, on the situation in Moroccan prisons.

It is requisite to make a disclaimer. Gdim Izik offenders were prosecuted not for reasons related to peaceful activism, as the signatories of the letter may have been misled into believing, but for having killed 11 unarmed elements of the Fire Department and Auxiliary Forces and mutilated their bodies. Would the 10 signatories have tolerated that the dissidents who stormed and trashed the Capitol and killed some policemen be considered peaceful demonstrators?

Detention conditions in Moroccan prisons are decent. This has all the more been acknowledged by the INL with which the Moroccan Prison and Reintegration Department has a solid and continuous cooperation, added to which the State Department’s reports that were being published since 2015 and the testimonies of American officials during the last meeting, as part of the Moroccan­ American strategic dialogue on Human Rights which took place just recently in Washington.

Following these clarifications, below are updated and verifiable data on the truth of detention conditions and medical care in Moroccan prisons.

With regard to offenders’ accommodation, the DGAPR sought to build new prison facilities with modem standards that are in line with the basic human rights principles. New-generation facilities are well-engineered structures that meet correction and rehabilitation requirements; the purpose being to provide premises devoted to social services in order to enable offenders to take advantage of educational, cultural, sporting and artistic programs. In the same vein, engineering designs have been adapted to include accessibility so as to meet the needs of certain vulnerable groups among prison population, such as the elderly

and offenders with disabilities. In addition, further penitentiary institutions have been refurbished and extended, with a view to increasing the housing capacity.

As far as offenders’ treatment is concerned, the DGAPR is keen to ensure that all inmates enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under the law and that they are treated with dignity and respect on the basis of equality and without discrimination when it comes to accommodation, medical care, visitation, land-line phone services, and miscellaneous activities …

To enhance inmates’ rights and preserve their dignity, correctional facilities are subject to national monitoring by judicial authorities, provincial committees and the National Council of Human Rights and its regional committees.

Concerning rehabilitation programs, the DGAPR widened the scope of offenders’ rehabilitation to include new programs and outstanding initiatives. Hence, in addition to education and literacy programs as well as vocational, agricultural, artisanal and artistic training, new programs have been adopted, such

as universities in prisons, national fora, cultural cafe programs, Moussalaha

(Reconciliation), peer education, scientific lectures and a summer camp for juvenile offenders …

As for food catering, and with a view to improving the quality of meals provided to inmates, the DGAPR delegated food catering to private companies specializing in meal preparation according to defined specifications aimed at reaching qualitative and quantitative levels of food supply, while ensuring a daily calorie intake for inmates in accordance with health and safety standards. Furthermore, foreign inmates are provided with meals as they observe religious holidays associated with their faith, as well as a given category of inmates (pregnant women, children living with their mothers in prison, and offenders suffering from diseases that require them to follow a special diet.

In terms of healthcare, there has been significant improvement, thanks to the efforts undertaken by the medical, paramedical, and administrative staff, as well as cooperation with the Health Department. The DGAPR initiated the following actions:

  • Increasing medical staff ratio;
  • Equipping correctional facilities with drugstores.
  • Providing correctional facilities with clinics equipped with necessary medical supplies;
  • Purchasing ambulances supplied with necessary medical equipment;
  • Equipping prison institutions with dental chairs;
  • Supplying all health units in prisons with computer equipment;
  • Purchasing two mobile radiology units;
  • Opening microscopy laboratories, bringing the total number of laboratories to 17 laboratories;
  • Upgrading medical and technical / laboratory I radiological equipment of the multidisciplinary medical center in the local prison of Ain Sebaa 1 in Casablanca;
  • Establishing 10 medical units of addiction treatment and doing without alternative treatment.
  • Creating 05 medical units of hemodialysis in five penitentiary institutions, pending the launch of a sixth one shortly.

These services include medical examinations, dental services, vaccination campaigns against epidemics, Surgeries and hospitalization in public hospitals whenever need be.

During the period from January, 1, 2021 to the end of September 2021, regular medical examinations amounted to 4 examinations per inmate and 1 per inmate in dentistry; And 1 external examination for each inmate, in addition to preventive awareness campaigns about some infectious diseases, surgeries, and hospitalizations in public hospitals whenever need be.

In line with the government’s guidelines regarding covid-19 prevention, the DGAPR undertook a set of precautionary measures, which made it possible to protect the prison population from the danger of this epidemic. In implementation of the Royal High instructions aimed at achieving collective immunity to all citizens, the DGAPR, in coordination with relevant stakeholders, started vaccinating inmates. Accordingly, the rate of inmates who underwent total vaccination is 96% of the prison population.

Prisoners’ complaints about alleged mistreatment by staff and denial of health care:

Consistent with the principles of good governance, the DGAPR ensures receipt and processing of offenders’ complaints under applicable law. In this regard, a set of practical measures were taken to ensure and enhance the exercise of offenders’ right of complaint, in a transparent and objective manner.

In this context, the task of receiving and handling prisoners’ complaints was assigned to a division of the Inspectorate-General after it was carried out by a central office that has been set up for this purpose. Moreover, boxes of four colors have been installed in all correctional facilities, enabling prisoners to direct their complaints in sealed envelopes to the various relevant authorities and bodies.

Upon receipt of the replies, the latter are handed out to the concerned inmates, who are required to sign in special registers as evidence of receipt. These boxes and the complaints deposited therein are managed by staff selected by the Inspectorate-General. They operate independently from the administration of the prison institution.

The procedures taken by the DGAPR to search and investigate allegations related to mistreatment by staff:

Investigating into allegations and preparing a detailed report on the subject, by:

  • Listening to the complainants,
  • Listening to the witnesses who can testify in the investigation,
  • Examining recordings of the electronic surveillance cameras,
  • Examining documents and records,
  • Carrying out medical examinations, if need be.
  • Gathering evidence and confronting the suspects,
  • Creating a file containing the results of the inquiry and the physical evidence that has been collected,
  • Preparing a detailed report that includes the results of the inquiry and suggestions.
  • Presenting the detailed report to a multidisciplinary central committee for consultation.
  • Presenting the report to the Delegate General (Head of the Moroccan prison and reintegration Department) to take the final decision.
  • Whenever a case is of questionable validity, the Public Prosecutor’s office is notified.
  • If the allegations are found to be true, the suspected staff member is immediately suspended and is notified to appear before the disciplinary council, while notifying the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
  • Giving an answer to the complainants in all cases, in full respect of the legal terms.

Allegations of mistreatment by staff

During 2020, the DGAPR received a total of 556 complaints, while during the year 202l{until September 30) it received a total of 485 complainants.

Although the issue of allegations of mistreatment accounts for one third of the complaints received, this does not necessarily reflect the reality of this treatment,

in view of the conclusions of the research and investigations carried out on these complaints, which confirms that the allegations are false. In fact, it always appears that the aim behind these claims is to put pressure on the administration of the prison institution by complaining prisoners in order to avoid monitoring imposed by the law, or to obtain illegal advantages.

Allegations related to denial of access to medical care

During the year 2020, the DGAPR received a total of 332 complaints. In the year 2021 (up to September 30), it received a total of 292 complainants.

According to the inquiry, the concerned inmates received the necessary medical care, but they do not accept the medication prescribed to them and demand a different prescription, or would prefer to go to the hospital at a time other than the scheduled appointment, even though their health condition does not require urgent response. There are also cases where these offenders would like to receive treatments that are not prescribed to them by the attending doctors.

To conclude let me express my deep concern for the credibility of a highly respectful worldwide institution such as the US Senate if so many honorable members thereof are so easily misled into making false judgments based on hearsay and biased reports.

Sincerely yours,

Mohamed Salah Tamek Head of the Moroccan Prison

And Reintegration Department

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