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Paramilitary Forces

Morocco's 50,000 paramilitary personnel serve in the Royal Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Royale-GR), Auxiliary Forces, Customs, and Coast Guard. The Royal Gendarmerie was considered to be a branch of the FAR, while the Auxiliary Forces, the Surete Nationale, and the intelligence services were attached to the Ministry of Interior.

Primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and for conducting internal security operations has been exercised jointly by the country's three separate police organizations: the Surete Nationale, the Royal Gendarmerie, and the Auxiliary Forces. Beyond its chief mission of providing defense against external threats, the Royal Moroccan Army could also be used to back up the police in quelling internal disorders in emergency circumstances. In addition, the Moroccan government relied upon the General Office of Research and Documentation (Direction Generale des Etudes et Documentation—DGED) and the Office of Territorial Surveillance (Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire—DST), which gathered and analyzed intelligence on national security.

All of the three police organizations were constituted after independence in 1956 and have been modeled on counterparts within the police system of metropolitan France. Because of the participation of Moroccan military officers and technical personnel who have assisted in the develoment and training of the police elements over the years, as well as the missions and operational philosophies involved, all of these forces were regarded as paramilitary organizations.

The Royal Guard is composed of 1,500 select personnel, organized into a battalion-level infantry force with a supporting cavalry squadron. Its function is to protect the Royal Family.

The General Office of National Security (Direction Générale de la Sûreté Nationale - DGSN) is a national civilian police force divided into 37 local districts, subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. The Royal Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Royale - GR), a paramilitary force that is formally part of the armed forces, augments the DGSN, serving as the country's main rural police unit while the DGSN concentrates primarily on urban areas. The DGSN, Royal Gendarmerie, and other Moroccan security organizations face allegations of human rights abuses.

Since he declared a "state of exception" in 1965 and assumed full executive and legislative powers for five years, Hassan had been the country's supreme arbiter of justice and the ultimate authority on what has constituted a national security threat. Hassan's dominance was reinforced by the Penal Code of 1962 as well as by various zahirs that identified opponents of the king as enemies of the state and authorized harsh punishments against them. The death sentence was mandatory for those convicted of an attempt to assassinate the king and was authorized for attempts against the lives of other royal family members.

Life imprisonment was specified for anyone guilty of trying to alter the form of government or to disrupt the established order of succession to the throne. Laws authorized penalties of five to 20 years in prison for conspiring to start a civil war, for insurrection, and for forming groups hostile to the state. Conspiracy against the regime included the publication of material offensive to the king, a crime that could be punished by a minimum sentence of five years in prison despite constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Even at the lower end of the scale of punishments, many penalties appeared harsh by Western standards. Persons guilty of disturbing the peace could be punished with prison sentences that varied from one month to one year.

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