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2022 October – Morocco Update

2022 October – Morocco Update

morocco biennial conference

2022 October – Morocco Update

The IAWJ Biennial Conference is scheduled to take place from May 11-13, 2023 in Marrakesh Morocco. Morocco is a country that criminalizes LGBTQ2S persons and same sex relationships.

Upon learning of the IAWJ’s choice of venue, the Canadian Chapter of the IAWJ as well as other organizations and individuals expressed concern about the possibility that some of our members may face criminal prosecution if they attend. As well, the Canadian Chapter views the issue as one of equality and inclusion.

The IAWJ has drafted a letter with its response to the concerns raised, which is attached.

In June 2022 at our conference in Yellowknife, a committee of our Chapter met to discuss the letter and the concerns of our members. It made a recommendation to the Board, which was discussed at a special meeting of the Board held on September 15, 2022. As a result of the meeting I can advise the following:

  • Each of the Board members (except for our International Director Mona Lynch) has decided not to attend the conference – some because they are not comfortable attending and are not assured by the IAWJ statement that criminalization of LGBTQ2S persons will not be enforced against IAWJ Conference attendees and others because they wish to make a statement that they will not attend a conference in a location that criminalizes same sex relations or has any law that would make it unsafe for our members to attend.
  • Our International Director Mona Lynch will attend the IAWJ Conference and make a resolution on behalf of our Chapter stating that going forward, selection criteria for the IAWJ Biennial Conference venues shall include that the location not have any law that criminalizes same sex relations or any law that would make it unsafe for our members to attend.
  • The Board recommends that the members of the Canadian Chapter not attend the IAWJ Conference in Morocco.

Concerning to the Board is that two prior IAWJ Biennial Conferences have been held in countries where same sex relations are criminalized – Uganda and Tanzania. At each of these conferences, the Canadian Chapter expressed its concern regarding the issue. Furthermore, it is anticipated that a venue from Africa, which is comprised of many countries that criminalize same sex relationships, will be selected for the 2025 IAWJ Biennial Conference. The Board is very concerned with the possibility that two IAWJ Biennial Conferences be held in such locations consecutively.

Earlier, as is our practice, the Canadian Chapter applied to the Canadian Judicial Council for funding for federally appointed judges to attend the conference. We understand that funding has been approved for 10 federal judges. In my role as President, I will join the CJC Committee Chair, CJ Deborah Fry (NL) in selecting which federally appointed judges will receive funding. In summary, while the Canadian Chapter recognizes the significant
work that the IAWJ does to promote human rights and equal justice for all, it cannot support the choice of venue for the 2023 IAWJ Biennial Conference in Morocco.

Justice Diana Cameron