Moroccan Committee Votes to Criminalize Violation of State of Emergency

Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit

Rabat – A committee for the Ministry of Interior within the House of Representatives unanimously voted for draft decree Law 2.20.292 to penalize violators of the state of emergency on Monday.

The draft law criminalizes all actions seeking to undermine the country’s state of emergency which came into effect on March 20.

Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit attended the vote, Moroccan television channel 2M reported.

Laftit said the draft law seeks to ensure an appropriate mechanism for security services to enforce and guarantee a successful state of emergency.

The decision to enact the bill comes in response to several violations of the state of emergency over the weekend. Morocco imposed the state of emergency as part of efforts to limit the proliferation of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

Several groups of people rallied on Saturday, March 21, in different cities, including Fez, Tetouan, Tangier, and Sale. The groups rallied at the same time at night, shocking thousands of Moroccans for defying the government and going out unnecessarily.

The Moroccan government held a cabinet council on Sunday to approve the law, which will impose tightened legal actions against anyone who violates the state of emergency, in accordance with Article 81 of the 2011 Moroccan Constitution.

People who violate the state of emergency and the orders of Moroccan authorities will receive a sentence ranging between one to three months in prison, if the bill is enacted by Parliament. 

Convicted suspects will have to pay a fine ranging between MAD 300 and 1,300 ($30 to $132).

Only people with signed “exceptional movement permits” can leave their home for work or in the event of emergency.

The draft law is the latest of nationwide measures in containing the spread of COVID-19 and will enable authorities to declare a localized state of emergency in any region where the lives of citizens are acutely threatened.