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Moroccan Premier Pledges to Support Whistleblowers in Fight Against Corruption

The Prime Minister of Morocco, Adberrahmane el Youssoufi, reaffirmed his commitment to the fight against corruption today. Meeting with representatives of Transparency International in Berlin, he said that his government was studying legislative proposals to protect the rights of individuals who demonstrate the courage to expose corruption. During the meeting, he stated: "We want to encourage Moroccans to expose instances of corruption, but they are not speaking out. Consequently, education and awareness-raising are important so that everybody acts as courageously as Mustapha Adib."

Transparency International asked the Moroccan Prime Minister to launch "a full review of the case of Captain Mustapha Adib in a fair and demonstrably open judicial process". Roslyn Hees, Transparency International's Executive Director for Africa, said: "Unless people know that they will be supported when they come forward to expose malpractice inside an administration - civilian or military - corruption will continue to spread unchecked and unpunished."

Captain Mustapha Adib exposed corruption on the part of his superiors in the Moroccan armed forces. After the dismissal of the guilty officers in 1998, he was ostracised by the military and decided to go public with his complaints, which led to his own imprisonment (see below). In Berlin today, the Moroccan Prime Minister responded to Transparency International's call for the introduction of procedures to protect whistleblowers by saying: "We are in the process of considering the enactment of a law along the lines of the recommendations of Transparency International in order to protect the rights of honest citizens. We are already taking steps in this direction." While acknowledging the courage of Captain Adib, the Prime Minister did not commit himself concerning the review of Adib's case.

The Moroccan Prime Minister reiterated the commitment he made to fight corruption when he was inaugurated, and outlined the steps his government has taken in its first two years. The measures have included a new law on public procurement, the strengthening of the competencies of the Audit Office, and the introduction of obligatory disclosure of assets. During the meeting, he reported on the dismissal of public servants implicated in acts of corruption. He said: "We are aware that corruption is one of the most hurtful phenomena facing our people. It is the silence of the victims, the complicity of the victims, that encourages corruption."

Transparency International recognised that steps had been taken while at the same time recalling that the detention of Captain Adib was not consistent with the Moroccan government's stated objectives in the fields of human rights, democratisation and transparency. Furthermore, Transparency International urged the Prime Minister to revive the plans set out by the National Commission for the Fight Against Corruption, the only instance where civil society, in particular Transparency Maroc [the Moroccan chapter of Transparency International], has an opportunity to work with the government in this area. Roslyn Hees insisted that "the fight against corruption cannot be sustainable without the active participation of civil society".

The case of Mustapha Adib

Captain Mustapha Adib was the recipient of the Transparency International Integrity Award in September 2000 in recognition of his courage in blowing the whistle on corruption in the Moroccan armed forces. Stationed at an air base in southern Morocco, in 1998 Captain Adib was approached by his superiors with a proposition involving the illegal sale of fuel allocated to the base. Refusing to participate, Captain Adib instead reported their activities directly to the head of the armed forces, Crown Prince Mohammed, now King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

After an inquiry, the officers behind the corruption were sentenced and discharged from the army. Despite his innocence, however, Captain Adib was subsequently ostracised within the military. In response, he took his complaint to a civil court, where he requested the annulment of the disciplinary measures initiated against him by the military. Since this met with no result, he agreed to be cited in the French daily Le Monde on 16 December 1999.

On 17 December 1999, Captain Adib was arrested, and in February 2000 he was sentenced by a military court in Rabat to five years in prison and dismissal from the army on charges of "breach of discipline" and "slander of the army". The panel of judges included one of the commanding officers against which Adib had previously filed a complaint, and the trial was held behind closed doors. The Supreme Court then overturned the sentence and, on 6 October 2000, the military court reduced the sentence to two-and-a-half years. A second appeal has been launched.

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Jeff Lovitt
Head of Public Relations
Transparency International
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Sion Assidon
Transparency Maroc
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Casablanca 20 000, Morocco
Tel: +212-2 542 699 Fax: +212-2 306 615