The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Morocco to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Morocco's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government continues to pursue in Morocco a democracy strategy that integrates advocacy for reform with foreign assistance, training, and public diplomacy outreach. Public diplomacy efforts promote the expression of democratic concepts and values through the media and in face-to-face interactions, using speakers, video conferences, print and electronic publications, theater productions, and grants for media training. The United States focuses its efforts on strengthening democratic institutions, including local governments, political parties, and parliament,
with a particular focus on youth and women's involvement in political processes; increasing civil society effectiveness at local and national levels; promoting anticorruption efforts and judicial reform; protecting and expanding freedoms of expression, religion, association, and the press; supporting and training marginalized youth; combating corruption, narcotics, and human trafficking; and enhancing the professionalism of security forces. The U.S. strategy is designed to support the government's commitment in all these areas.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government engages the Moroccan government and civil society at all levels to encourage continued progress in the areas of human rights and democratic reform. Through the annual Human Rights Dialogue, launched in 2007, U.S. officials engage counterparts from three ministries in constructive and open discussions on the entire range of human rights issues, including human trafficking. U.S. officials meet with government officials and leaders of religious communities to promote religious freedom and tolerance. For example, during Ramadan, the U.S. mission organized several events to promote religious dialogue and emphasize religious tolerance. In addition, when the government recently expelled U.S. citizens from the country for allegedly violating antiproselytizing laws, U.S. officials urged tolerance and pressed for due process. The United States continues to promote media freedom through journalist training programs that emphasize journalistic ethics and professionalism.
Through the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Government will send more than 30 Moroccans in fields related to democracy, government, human rights, grassroots activism, and the law to the United States for various training opportunities in 2010. The U.S. Government is also expanding capacity-building programs for local governments and political parties, with a particular focus on female politicians elected in the 2009 local elections (13 percent of all municipal council positions nationwide, up from fewer than 1 percent). To support this watershed event, the U.S. Government provides management and leadership training to the first-time female officeholders to ensure they have the skills to govern and participate in the political process effectively. The United States also supports, through advocacy and programming, activists within political parties who aim to increase their own parties' internal democratic processes, improve the effectiveness of the party system, and reach out to women, youth, and economically disadvantaged elements of society.
On the judicial front, the U.S. Government supports the government's efforts to develop and promote the use of alternative sentencing for young offenders, as well as to improve conditions in prisons. The United States will provide technical assistance to the government and will increase outreach to, and constructive engagement with, youth and other at-risk segments of society to lessen their vulnerability to extremism and help integrate them into broader democratic processes. The U.S. Government is currently funding a two-way exchange focused on combating violence against women through offender-targeted programs. Four Moroccans from the government and NGO sector will study U.S. models of counseling victims of domestic violence and the role of police in enforcing the law. Combating corruption is a priority, reflecting the government's own commitment in this area. The U.S. Government promotes court system improvements through judicial training and other governmental and civil society actors and increased civil society advocacy to promote accountability and transparency. A U.S.-funded educational drama takes anticorruption messages nationwide. The United States is also funding the design of an anticorruption charter for judges and court clerks. As a result of U.S. support, legal associations continue a constructive dialogue with the government on judicial reform, and the government developed a national anticorruption strategy and procedures, a public awareness campaign, and an anticorruption hotline. The United States also funded the creation of three pilot public anticorruption assistance centers.
Resolution of the longstanding Western Sahara dispute is essential to improving the country's overall human rights situation and permitting greater democratic reform. Extensive diplomacy with government and security officials helps to improve the situation in the territory, including advances in freedom of movement and reductions in human rights violations. UN-sponsored negotiations under a newly appointed personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General aim to find an equitable and lasting solution acceptable to all parties. Since last year's report, two rounds of informal talks between Morocco and the POLISARIO (with Algeria and Mauritania attending as observers) have taken place under UN auspices. The United States continues to support UN efforts through advocacy and reporting on human rights. U.S. officials continue to engage directly with human rights activists, victims, and government officials in the Western Sahara.