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Morocco’s strategy against terrorism

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By Malik Jones

The Moroccan security services recently announced in a press release that they have arrested three extremists affiliated with the terrorist organisation “Daesh”. During the efforts to thwart the planned terrorist act and arrest the extremists, a policeman unfortunately lost his life.

Findings from the initial investigations revealed that the terrorists recently pledged allegiance to the so-called emir of Daesh and planned to participate in a terrorist project with the aim of seriously undermining public order.

Counter-terrorism sources in Morocco have revealed that since 2002, Moroccan security services have dismantled more than 2,000 terrorist cells and arrested more than 3,500 people in connection with terrorism related cases.

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It should be noted that since the terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Morocco on 16 May 2003, the kingdom in line with the vision of His Majesty, King Mohammed VI, has put in place an efficient, multi-dimensional, and holistic strategy to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

Since then, Morocco has been proactive and anticipatory in measuring the dangers of violent extremism. The most important axis of this strategy is prevention in strict compliance with the rule of law and human rights principles.

This approach is based on several pillars including the reform of the religious field, the strengthening of the rule of law and the international cooperation with its foreign partners.

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Religious pillar

The policy for the management of religious affairs in the kingdom is based on the fact that the head of state, as Commander of the Faithful, has a legitimacy that is based on an exercise of power for 12 centuries. The corollary of this function is the preservation of religious constants and the protection of the free exercise of worship, based on the principles of moderate, tolerant and open Sunni Islam.

Security and legal pillar

Another equally important pillar relates to security and legal arsenal, which is based on the prevention of malicious acts, vigilance and monitoring with the aim of eradicating this scourge that threatens not only Morocco, but the entire Maghreb and Sahel region.

 This proactive approach has made it possible to anticipate potential terrorist attacks, to abort attacks against the security personnel and institutions and maintain stability in the country. An overhaul of the national security architecture has been carried out in order to strengthen the kingdom’s security governance and in application of the provisions of the constitution which enshrines the principles of democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Development and social equity pillar

Preventing and combatting violent extremism in Morocco also involves promoting inclusive human development, so as to establish strong social nets that strengthen the resilience of vulnerable categories to radicalisation and prevent the creation of breeding grounds for terrorism and violent extremism.

The National Human Development Initiative launched in 2005 by Her Majesty Mohammed VI with the objective of ensuring a better distribution of the fruits of growth and to improve the living conditions of citizens is one of the levers of this pillar.

Structural reform pillar

Morocco has also in this regard embarked on a durable, dynamic process of overhauling its legislative and institutional framework, aimed at improving the performance of institutions, strengthening the rule of law, democracy and good governance, and protecting and promoting human rights, with a view to improving the daily lives of citizens within the framework of an inclusive and participatory approach, and ensuring the harmonisation of national laws with international norms and standards.

 This policy has been successful thanks to the constitutionalisation of numerous institutions and bodies for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, good governance, human and sustainable development and participatory democracy. The constitutionalisation of these mechanisms is a major political act, aiming to strengthen the institutional mechanism and consolidate the national architecture of human rights.

International cooperation pillar

Morocco has prioritised international cooperation through its various declinations including triangular cooperation, North-South cooperation and South-South cooperation.

In this regard, Morocco participates at the regional and international levels in the dissemination of good practices and lessons developed at the national, regional and international levels in the fight against violent extremism.

In this regard, Morocco has hosted two years ago, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) for Specialised Counter-Terrorism and Law Enforcement Training in Africa. It was opened in June 2021, and hosted several training courses in late 2021.

The Program Office, the first of its kind in Africa, works to develop and implement accredited programmes aimed primarily at capacity building and skills development in the area of counter-terrorism, including security, investigation and prosecution, prison and border management, disengagement, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration.

The choice of Morocco as a partner for the establishment of this programme office is further evidence of the trust and esteem vested in the National Strategy to Combat Terrorism and Violent Extremism.

On the occasion of the launch ceremony of the office, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Nasser Bourita reaffirmed that Morocco, in partnership with United Nations, is available to share with African states the singular expertise of its counter-terrorism strategy, developed during more than two decades under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

Morocco also enjoys strong cooperation with many partners and helped several of them to thwart planned attacks, particularly Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Malik Jones is a veteran broadcaster who served as director-general of GRTS and deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information. He recently visited Morocco at the invitation of the Rabat government.

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