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Court of Appeal of Tangier overtunes a « historic » ruling on the paternity of an « illegitimate » child

Written by FDM

The Court of Appeal of Tangiers has just annulled a rulling that had recognized for the first time in Morocco the paternity of a child born out of wedlock, arousing anger and disappointment among NGO’s and activists.

The court of first instance in Tangier delivered in January a judgment recognizing a man’s paternity of a girl born out of wedlock, based on DNA tests provided by the mother, in a first in Morocco.

The father had then been ordered to pay the mother an indemnity of 100,000 dirhams (9,000 euros), although this recognition of paternity did not give the child access to rights related to filiation, such as inheritance.

This judgment, which was described as « historical », was overturned on Tuesday by the Court of Appeal, which also ordered the mother to pay legal costs, the defense lawyer Ahmed Guennoun told AFP.

“This is a great disappointment for the mother and her loved ones. We are going to appeal to the Court of Cassation (Morocco’s top court) and place our hopes in its judges, » he added.

Insaf, an NGO that supports the rights of women and children in the country, said the Moroccan justice system wasn’t taking into consideration the needs of the newborn, and that the ruling sends a message to people that men aren’t expected to take responsibility for their actions.

In a country where sexual relations outside marriage are officially proscribed, children born out of wedlock are considered « illegitimate » by law.

According to a study published in 2011 by Insaf and the UN, more than 7 out of 10 future fathers are informed in the case of pregnancy out of wedlock, but most refuse to recognize the child.

Last September, a petition launched online by associations called for « all children in Morocco to enjoy the same basic rights regardless of the status of their parents at the time of their conception ».