Morocco/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.8 Other areas of relevant legislation

Freedom of Expression and Association

The Moroccan constitution of 1996 concisely refers to fundamental rights and freedoms. Article 9 of the constitution guarantees all citizens the freedom of movement through, and settlement in, all parts of the kingdom, as well as the freedom of opinion, of expression in all its forms, and of public gathering. It also guarantees the freedom of association, and the freedom to belong to any union or political group. It notes that no limitation, except by law, shall be put to the exercise of such freedoms. The 2011 draft constitution is more concerned with fundamental rights and freedoms, and the second chapter is dedicated to these. This new section includes 22 articles devoted to civil, political, and economic rights and freedoms. For the first time, this constitution—in article 29—will ensure freedom of the press, as citizens will have the right of access to information, in public administration, according to the requirements of Article 27. 

Regarding political parties and trade unions, while the 1996 constitution only allocated one article to this topic—which notes that political parties, unions, district councils and trade chambers shall participate in the organisation and representation of citizens—the new draft constitution has four articles allocated to this topic. According to the draft constitution, political parties work for the structuring and for the political instruction of female and male citizens, for the promotion of their participation in national life and the management of public affairs. They concur in the expression of the will of the voters and participate in the exercise of power, on the basis of pluralism and of alternation by democratic methods, within the framework of constitutional institutions. Political parties may not be founded on a religious, linguistic, ethnic, or regional basis, or on any discriminatory basis or basis contrary to human rights. These parties cannot have for an objective the infringement of Islam, the monarchical regime, constitutional principles, democratic foundations or the national unity and territorial integrity of the kingdom.

Chapter 9 of the Moroccan constitution guarantees the following to all citizens:

  • Freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
  • Freedom of association and affiliation in any labour or political organisation.
  • The said freedoms may only be revoked by the law.

During the first years of independence, Morocco had no constitution, but the Decree [56] of 1958 was issued to regulate freedom of association.

This dahir defines an association as an agreement meant to achieve cooperation between two or more people in order to exchange information or engage in non-profit activities.

This dahir was amended in 1973, 1992 and 2002 [36, 47]; more than half of its chapters were amended.

Passed by way of executive decree in 2005 [19], Dahir 1958 lays out a system for registering associations. By virtue of this law, any person or group of persons may form an association without prior permission, provided that a statement is submitted to the headquarters of the appropriate local administrative authority or a judicial application is submitted, against which a sealed and dated instant temporary voucher is granted. The dahir’s key provision is that the declared association must serve the public in some capacity. Hence Moroccan associations are of two types:

  • A declared association that has its own legislation may appear in court, acquire (in return for compensation) and possess property, dispose of state subsidies, oversee membership and annual subscription, and assist in the private sector.

  • A public utility association shall have the same privileges enjoyed by a declared association, in addition to the possibility of receiving "donations writ large" pursuant to Law [53] and generating income according to the conditions set by this law.


Law [53] also tackles the issue of public donation requests (fundraising, subscriptions, selling of logos, parties, dance parties, charity markets, shows and concerts) for charitable projects, organisations or individuals. Public donation requests may only be announced upon authorisation by the general secretary. At least 85% of funds collected for licensed public projects must go directly to those projects.

Art Unions

Morocco has many artists’ unions and associations including the:


  • Moroccan Coalition for Culture and Arts, which consist of all artists’ unions and associations in the fields of theatre, music, fine arts, cinema, etc.
  • National Association for Professional Musicians
  • National Association for Professional Theatre Artists
  • Moroccan Association for Theatre
  • Moroccan Authors Union
  • The Moroccan Poetry House
  • Press Law


In 2003, a law pertaining to press and publication [31] was issued to amend Decree 55 (passed in 1958). This law reorganised written press in Morocco to better address current needs and synchronise with the country’s democratisation process. It sought to adapt media-related national legislation to international human rights agreements, freedom of thought and the right to receive and impart information.

The law maintained the two basic principles stipulated in Decree 1958: freedom of printing and book promotion and the declaration system concerning the issuance of newspapers and periodicals.

This law also expresses a clear will to secure a free press in accordance with the maintenance of public freedoms and respect for the private lives of citizens. The key elements of this law are as follows:


  • Guarantee citizens the right to information.
  • Enhance journalism as an occupation by constitutional rights to freedom and information, in addition to stipulating the appointment of an assistant publishing director in case the publishing director assumes a parliamentary duty or is a member of the government.
  • The need to grant a temporary voucher instantly and a final voucher after 30 days.
  • Justify newspaper seizure decisions.
  • Confer suspension and prohibition jurisdictions on the judiciary instead of the executive.
  • Prohibit discrimination on grounds of sex, origin, race or religion.


In recognition of journalists’ work to develop national information and stimulate national democratic life, a “National Grand Prize for Journalism” was created in 2004 by prime ministerial decree [21]. This prize is given every year on the National Day for Information and Communication. In 2006, the decree was expanded [15] such that the prize included written press and broadcast media (including electronic media) in fields such as investigation, analysis, reportage and shooting.

It should be noted that the number of journalists in Morocco press is up to 2,143, with 1508 males and 626 females.

As a result of the state's desire to overcome problems relating to the media, in the beginning of 2012 it established the Scientific Advisory Committee, charged with studying draft bills on the draft code of press and publication and producing a draft of a new media code. 

Prior to this, at the beginning of 2012, the Moroccan parliament launched a national debate entitled: “Media and Society”. This led to the completion of the White Paper, which included a number of recommendations from deliberations of dialogue sessions, memoranda from political parties and human rights organisations, and field research carried out by the governing body for national dialogue, which includes the heads of committees in both chambers of parliament, as well as the Ministry of Communication, the Moroccan National Press Union, and the Moroccan Federation for Newspaper Publishers. 

Recommendations in the White Paper come from various sides, including those related to the law of the press, public media, journalistic enterprises, professional ethics, publicity, governing bodies, training and continuing education, public support and mechanisms for this support, new technologies, the internet, and collective and local communication. 

Moreover, the recommendations pertain to constitutionalising some basic rights, freedoms and obligations. They also call for verifying the formulation of the constitution, in regards to freedom of expression and freedom of information, as well as establishing a mechanism of governance for media that combines ethics with support or order to develop and modernise media. At the legislative level, recommendations include several laws—such as access to information law, the publicity law, and the journalism, publishing, and new media law. 

Likewise, the recommendations are subject to a media agreement, whether written, electronic, or verbal from the economic side. Basic standard training available in all sectors of media, whether public or private, is recommended by the general coordinator of the national dialogue.

The national dialogue about media has resulted in the development of a publishing and press draft which is now under authentication, and is distributed to seven axes:

  • The first axis seeks to enhance guarantees of freedom in practicing press through mechanisms of cancellation of penalties involving deprivation of liberty replaced by moderate fines and enforcing the introduction of good faith in the compensation for harm, and empowerment of journalists to provide evidence of proof throughout the stages of the proceedings and guarantees the right to access to information and sanction in the case of subjective refusal.

  • The second axis of the project, aiming at protecting the rights and freedoms of society and individuals, is on the mechanisms of enforcing prevention of motivation of hatred, discrimination and violence, and the right to life and sets the requirements of promotion to protect the individual and the society and respect for the presumption of innocence and to ensure access to judicial information and the practical mechanisms to restore respect for ethics.

    The second axis is based also on setting conditions for the realisation of the principle of good faith in compensation in cases of abuse and insult, and establishes mechanisms to mediate in conflicts of press through the National Press Council, and to ensure that civil society is representative in the composition of the National Board of the Press, and enable the complainant to provide evidence of proof throughout the stages of the proceedings, and appraising mechanisms and ensuring the dissemination of the right of correction and response.

  • The third axis of the project aims at operationalisation of the exclusive authority of press cases to judiciary and to strengthen its role in the protection of freedom of the press, and these mechanisms to make justice the sole and exclusive competent authority  to issue newspaper publishing licenses and enforce collective justice when working on press cases.

  • The fourth axis of the project is based on the mechanisms for promoting freedom of electronic press, represented in the legal recognition of electronic press and in enabling them with requirements of practising free press and in stipulating that freedom of press services is guaranteed to all, and provide them with electronic newspaper licenses for photography, and set a maximum and minimum limit to judicial blocking of electronic newspapers.

  • The fifth axis of the draft is committed to promoting investment and development of the requirements of transparency, which should be based on the need to establish safeguards for freedom of initiative and encourage investment in the information and press sectors. Development of the requirements of transparency when contracting press; measure recognition of mandatory public support for newspapers in accordance with the principles of equality of opportunity, neutrality and multilateralism; encourage reading and social protection of reporters; and cancellation of  strict requirements, which are added to the requirements contained in the law on companies; and adoption of the requirements that guarantee transparency, free competition and non-monopoly in relations with promotions, printing, distribution and publishing.

  • The sixth axis is related to the determination of rights and freedoms for the journalist, through mechanisms of judicial protection of confidentiality of sources and the right to access  information, and to affirm penalties in the case of refusal, and to provide tight legal guarantees to protect reporters against attacks;  cancel protective penalties in the case of recurrence; limit territorial jurisdiction of claims against  the press; establish arbitration mechanisms between professionals across the National Press Council; extension of duration of announcement on data; make the statement of editors subject to their presence; and involve professionals in the development of legislation on press releases.

  • The seventh axis of the project is committed to strengthening the independence of the press and Press Foundations, through the mechanisms of making the withdrawal of press cards exclusively determined by the judiciary;  strengthen legal conditions for social protection to reporters; ration access into the profession, and the upgradethe scientific conditions for entering the profession of journalism; and adoption of objective criteria with public support to ensure independence.


Cultural Industries

The cultural industry mixes creativity with the production and marketing of cultural goods and services which represent or convey various forms of cultural expression regardless of their commercial value (according to the definition of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by UNESCO in 2005).

The cultural industry includes printing, music, film, audio-visual and multimedia production and may include some architecture, fine arts, performing arts and others.

Support and development for the Moroccan cultural industry is covered under the state policy adopted to promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In 2002, a law [38] was issued defining the term “SME” as every small or medium enterprise operated and/or managed directly by the persons, partners or stockholders who own it, assuming 25% of its capital or voting rights is not owned by other SMEs, unless specified by the law.

The law sets the ceiling for human and financial resources SMEs can possess and still qualify for the said definition.

The law also stipulates the creation of a financially independent public called the National Agency for the Promotion of SMEs, which will implement state policy to promote SMEs, particularly in commerce, taxation, accounting, bylaw, work relations, social security and public transactions.

SMEs may benefit from:

  • Service-related expenditures.
  • Part of the expenditures related to preparing SME lands and structures dedicated.

To distribute these benefits, a fund was created.  A loan guarantee fund was also created, from which newly launched SMEs owned by young entrepreneurs (or the companies or partnerships they establish) mostly benefit. This law uses additional means to encourage young entrepreneurs to create SMEs.

The Cultural Industry Security Fund was created in 2003 by the National Agency for the Promotion of SMEs in cooperation with the International Government Agency for the Francophone. The fund gives SMEs active in cultural work access to bank loans. Moroccans involved in the following fields may benefit from this fund:

  • Film and A-V production and distribution
  • Film technology
  • Theatre, festivals and use of theatres, radio and TV
  • Written press, production and distribution of CDs and media with educational and cultural content
  • Visual arts, fine arts, shows and design


Legislation for Self-Employed Artists

There is no law governing self-employed artists but, according to the Artist Law [26] and the Film Industry Law [40], artists in writing, theatre and cinema may benefit from state subsidies (see paragraphs 5.3.2, .5 and .6).

Other Areas of Relevant Legislation

The Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, created in Paris on 17 October, 2003, was signed into law [17] in 2006. 

A decree [14] creating the Cultural Merit Prize was also issued in 2006. The prize honours Moroccan figures in culture, science and art for their contributions to Moroccan culture.  Individuals can only receive the prize once; candidates are nominated by the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Arabic Language Academy, the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture, universities, national cultural associations and previous winners.

A special scientific committee is assigned by the MoC to help select candidates.

The sixty legal texts (dahirs, laws and decisions) mentioned in this chapter are collected below with a summary of their contents and dates of publication and gazette announcement. 

Chapter published: 05-05-2016