Morocco to Abolish Death Penalty

by Kevin Jon Heller

Excellent news: Morocco is set to become the first Arab country to formally abolish the death penalty:

Morocco will become by the end of April the first Arab state to remove the death penalty from its statute books, the president of the state appointed Consultative Committee on Human Rights, Ben Dhikri, confirmed to Adnkronos International (AKI) on Thursday. He is among 600 delegates gathered in the French capital, Paris for a two-day international conference against the death penalty. Prospects for abolishing capital punishment in North Africa are the main focus of the event – ‘The 3rd World Congress Against the Death Penalty’.

Dhikri said a “general consensus” in favour of ending capital punishment exists among MPs in the current Moroccan parliament whose term ends in April. Dhikri, who is a close advisor to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, praised the monarch’s appointment of a special legal commission tasked with removing capital punishment from the country’s penal code.

“The law has already been amended and capital punishment abolished for a number of crimes,” Dhikri explained. “The plan now is to revise Morocco’s constitution to remove the death penalty,” he said.

“No true opposition to abolishing capital punishment exists, but there is some concern about the growth of terrorism and new forms of the phenomenon,” Dhikri said. “The positive aspects of Islam need to be stressed. It does not order people to kill, carry out reprisals or state executions,” he added.

Arab governments need to show themselves willing to take certain important decisions such as that to abolish capital punishment, and give a lead to a sometimes hesitant public, according to Dhikri. In Morocco, “a new moral conscience has matured which has contributed to the abolition of the death penalty,” he said.

Dhikri’s insistence that Islam does not require the death penalty is particularly refreshing. We can only hope that other Arab governments heed his call to follow in Morocco’s footsteps. Bahrain would be a logical target: until last December, when a man and woman were executed for murder, Bahrain had executed only one person since 1977.

UPDATE: A friend asked about Turkey, which abolished the death penalty in 2002 as a condition of joining the EU. Turkey is not an Arab country; although 99.8% of Turks are Muslim, less than 2% are Arab.

http://opiniojuris.org/2007/02/05/morocco-to-abolish-death-penalty/

One Response

  1. Bravo Morocco!

    This is heartening and refreshing –and, sadly, not something you will read on any of the very popular far-right American political blogs that have made it their mission to paint the entirety of the Arab and Muslim world as barbaric and backwards.

    And here we have Morocco making a progressive change to outlaw a cruel practice that the United States engages in many times a year with happy abandon…….

    Sigh.

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