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Parliament: Military Service Necessary for Public Service Jobs

Just two days before Parliament’s final vote, the coalition and opposition parliamentary groups have proposed unexpected modifications to the compulsory military service bill.

On Monday, the justice and legislation committee in the House of Representatives examined the draft bill on compulsory military service.

The coalition and opposition parliamentary groups within the committee made several amendments to the compulsory military service bill, mainly making military service obligatory before joining the public service.

The amendments propose that citizens wanting to get public service jobs must have a document certifying that they completed 12 months of military service.

Naturalized Moroccans who are eligible for military service will have to wait at least 5 years before having access to the obligatory military service, according to the new amendments.

In addition, any employee dismissed from the public service is expected to be prevented from participating in military service.

According to Moroccan Minister Delegate for the National Defence Administration Abdellatif Loudiyi, 10,000 young people are expected to begin service in the military each year beginning in September 2019.

Loudiyi also said that women and Moroccans residing abroad (MREs) could be exempt from the draft.

Public dialogue not taken into consideration

While the coalition and opposition groups consider their proposals as “important” in complementing the shortcomings of the military service draft bill, they did not take into account disapproval from Moroccan youth.

Many Moroccan youth and activists opposed “the legislative speed” which accelerated the ministerial council’s approval of Bill 44.18 “unlike other more important laws that have not been adopted yet.”

The justice and legislation committee decided to put the bill under review by the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights and the Economic, Social, and Environmental Council as part of a public discussion on the bill.

However, the House of Representatives objected to the committee’s decision without providing any explanation.

“The decision regarding the military service was taken in advance, and what we see [now] in Parliament are mere formalities that will not affect the essence of the decision,” Ahmed Elhaij, the president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights said.

The legislative speed “of the draft bill conveys the message that military issues must remain within” the powers of the head of state, Elhaij explained.

Elhaij added that the bill is only being discussed in Parliament to lend it legitimacy.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights, along with other bodies, expressed its position on the bill and called for “its compatibility with international human rights instruments, especially the recognition of the right of citizens to refuse military service for reasons of conscience related to their human or religious convictions”.

The government, represented by the minister delegate in charge of the National Defense Administration, will decide on the new amendments to be voted on today.

On August 20, the Council of Ministers adopted the bill, which sets the age of compulsory military service from 19 to 25 years of age for 12 months.

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