The National Commission for the Protection of Public Property in Morocco (l'Instance nationale pour la protection des biens publics au Maroc, INPBPM) is a Rabat-based organization dedicated to safeguarding Morocco's land resources and heritage from corruption, misappropriation, or illegal monopolization by means of "confronting those who are corrupt or corruptible regardless of their social status." The INPBPM submitted its founding papers on August 1, 2006, to the local administration at the wilaya of Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zâir, where the clerk on duty refused to issue the association a provisional receipt. When the INPBPM heard nothing from the authorities within the 60-day period provided by the law, the INPBPM took the position that it was now properly declared, having adhered to the procedures laid down in the law on associations, its president, Tarek Sbaï, told us.
Rather than filing a case in court, the INPBPM initially protested to the minister of interior the refusal to issue receipts, since in its judgment, the refusal was a political matter, Sbaï said. The INPBPM wrote letters on November 15, 2006, to the prime minister and interior minister about the problem but received no answer. None of its correspondence addressed to public officials has produced a response, he said.
The INPBPM eventually filed a case in the Rabat administrative court, which responded by issuing an order designating a bailiff to accompany and bear witness to the INPBPM's efforts to file its papers at the wilaya. A bailiff accompanied the INPBPM on June 2, 2009, and in his report stated that the association delivered the papers to the official on duty at the public affairs office within the wilaya, who refused to issue a provisional receipt for them or to identify himself.
The INPBPM has formed chapters in the cities of al-Hoceima, Sidi Ifni, TanTan, Smara, Assa, and Mrirt, none of which has succeeded in getting a receipt when depositing founding documents. The Hoceima section sent its founding papers by registered mail to the local administration, return receipt requested, but their mailing was returned to the sender, Sbaï said. In some cases, he added, authorities explained orally to members of the local sections that since the national association was not recognized, they could not grant recognition to the local sections.
There have been practical consequences to the fact that authorities view the INPBPM as undeclared. Because it lacks legal personality, the association cannot file suits in Moroccan court in pursuit of its objective to protect public property. In addition, authorities at the Rabat wilaya denied a request by the INPBPM to hold on April 17-18, 2009, a congress at the School of Mines, saying the INPBPM had no receipt, Sbaï said.
But, in a reflection of the ambiguities between practice and the law, after the wilaya refused, the INPBPM persuaded the School of Mines to make a meeting room available to it anyway. The INPBPM also managed to open a bank account, something that banks typically refuse to do for associations that cannot produce the receipts issued by the local administration.