Morocco. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Morocco is 36,910,571 people in 2020. King Muhammad VI pardoned 33 political prisoners in January, among them the editor Ali Lamrabet, who in 2003 had been sentenced to prison for his satirical articles. The requests were described as a way of marking that the Justice and Reconciliation Commission appointed in 2003 had begun its work. The Commission’s mission was to investigate the authorities’ human rights violations and decide on compensation for those affected. Among the members of the Commission were several former political prisoners.
Justice Minister Muhammad Bouzoubaa announced in May that more than 2,000 people had been arrested for involvement in the blast attacks in Casablanca in 2003. The US human rights organization Human Rights Watch reported in October that many of those arrested had been threatened and beaten in the cell. A number of those arrested were sentenced during the year to prison sentences of varying length.
Following the terrorist attacks on train stations and trains in Madrid on March 11, Morocco began intensive security cooperation with Spain. A number of Moroccans were arrested in Spain on suspicion of involvement in the death, but most were released during the year. In November, seven Moroccans were still apprehended while another four were wanted.
Parliament voted in January for a law aimed at strengthening women’s rights. The new law allowed polygamy only in exceptional cases, raised the minimum age to enter into marriage from 15 to 18 years, and gave the woman as much responsibility as the man for the family’s affairs.
A free trade agreement between the United States and Morocco entered into force in July. Morocco thus became the first country in Africa to agree on free trade with the United States.
At least 600 people were killed when an earthquake on February 23 shook the area around the port city of el-Hoceima on the Mediterranean coast. Security forces used force to beat down protesters who went to the regional governor’s office to demand faster relief efforts.