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Morocco - Government Corruption

Crime in Morocco is a serious concern, particularly in the major cities and tourist areas. Aggressive panhandling, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, theft from occupied vehicles stopped in traffic and harassment of women are the most frequently reported crimes. Criminals have used weapons, primarily knives, during some street robberies and burglaries. These have occurred at any time of day and night, not only in isolated places or areas less frequented by visitors, but in crowded areas as well. It is always best to have a travel companion and utilize taxis from point to point, particularly at night and when moving about unfamiliar areas. Residential break-ins also occur and have on occasion turned violent, but most criminals look for opportunities based on stealth rather than confrontation. Fraud in Morocco may involve a wide range of situations from financial fraud to relationship fraud for the purpose of obtaining a visa.

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption was a serious problem in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In May 2007 the minister of justice stated that corruption and economic crimes accounted for 10 percent of all cases in the court system. During 2008 the MOJ adjudicated more than 6,000 corruption cases, although the outcomes of most were undetermined at year's end.

The judiciary's lack of independence and susceptibility to influence were widely acknowledged, including by the king. In April 2007 parliament adopted a law requiring judges to disclose property and financial assets, and in March 2008 a similar law passed pertaining to members of parliament and ministers.

In response to his July 2007 Throne Day Speech, the king charged the government with forming the high-level Central Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, composed of ministerial representatives and members of civil society, to investigate corruption allegations and report them to the prime minister. Eighteen months later, on December 2, the prime minister announced the 42 members of the body, the president of which is a civil society anticorruption activist and former political prisoner. In addition to the commission, the MOJ and the Government Accountability Court (Cour de Comptes) also had jurisdiction over corruption issues.

During 2008 the accountability court conducted 245 audits of national governmental offices and services and 198 of local authorities. The court's report was generally critical of the level of accountability and corruption in government services. The report levied specific criticism against the Health Ministry, National Investment and Development Fund, and several local mayors for rampant corruption. There were no prosecutions by year's end.

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