Amnesty International denounced, Wednesday March 30, “the continuation of restrictions” against freedom of expression in Morocco, accusing the authorities of exploiting the state of health emergency to prevent peaceful demonstrations.
“Restrictions against freedom of expression continue, prosecutions have been initiated against journalists and activists”, said Amina Affinida, spokesperson for the local branch of Amnesty, during the presentation of the 2021 report of the human rights NGO. Mme Affinida mentioned “at least seven reporters and activists” arrested and tried in cases “in line with their opinions”.
This is the case of the historian Maâti Monjib, already convicted of “undermining state security” and “fraud”, and prosecuted since the end of 2020 for “money laundering”. The spokeswoman also mentioned the name of journalist and human rights defender Omar Radi, sentenced on March 3 to six years in prison in a double case of “rape” and “espionage”, charges he has always denied. .
Human rights associations – including Amnesty – mobilized in Morocco and abroad in favor of MM. Radi and Monjib, as well as Soulaimane Raissouni, another journalist, sentenced at the end of February to five years in prison for “sexual assault”. Their supporters believe they have not received fair trials and have been targeted for their writings and their commitment. The Moroccan authorities, they assure that these trials “have nothing to do with their journalistic work or their opinions”.
Furthermore, according to M.me Affinida, the authorities used the state of health emergency, in force since spring 2020, “to impose restrictions on demonstrations and peaceful assemblies”. Amnesty’s spokesperson deplored the “digital surveillance targeting journalists, activists and politicians in violation of their privacy”. Finally, the secretary general of Amnesty in Morocco, Mohamed Sektaoui, called on the Moroccan authorities to “listen to all voices, whatever their intensity, their difference and their strength of opposition”.
Relations between the Moroccan authorities and Amnesty International are strained after the NGO accused Rabat last summer of using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on Moroccan and foreign figures. The Moroccan government has categorically denied “these false and unfounded allegations” and initiated several legal proceedings, particularly in France, where the courts recently ruled these proceedings inadmissible.
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