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European Parliament criticizes Morocco’s repression of journalists

Freedom of the press in Morocco, a right not respected. On Thursday, MEPs criticized the decisions taken by Rabat degrading press freedom. In a non-binding text very widely adopted in Strasbourg – 356 votes for, 32 against and 42 abstentions – the European Parliament “urged” the Moroccan authorities to “respect freedom of expression and freedom of the media” and to ” guarantee imprisoned journalists (…) a fair trial”.

The parliamentarians insisted in particular on the case of Omar Radi. This Moroccan investigative journalist, known for his positions critical of the monarchy, was arrested in 2020 and sentenced on appeal in March to six years in prison for “rape” and “espionage”, charges he has always denied.

For “the end of the harassment of Moroccan journalists”

“Many defense rights were not respected, which taints the entire trial with unfairness and bias”, consider the MEPs who are asking for his provisional release, as well as that of Taoufik Bouachrine, another imprisoned journalist. The parliamentarians also demand “an end to the harassment of all journalists in the country”.

The Moroccan authorities, for their part, assure that the judiciary is independent and that the convictions of journalists “have nothing to do” with their journalistic work. Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the contrary denounced in July the development of “underhanded techniques of repression” against opponents.

In a press release, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) defends that the convictions of these two journalists “have in common many procedural irregularities”. “The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded […] that Taoufik Bouachrine and Souleiman Raissouni had been targeted for having exercised their profession and their right to freedom of expression”, details the NGO.

“After 25 years of passivity”, the European Parliament “puts an end to an unfortunate trend which consists in exempting Morocco from any comment on attacks on freedom of the press and human rights”, rejoiced RSF. Morocco occupies 135th place out of 180 countries in the world ranking of press freedom established by RSF.

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