Both Moroccan press freedom organisations and international rights groups took advantage of World Press Freedom Day to speak up for the rights of imprisoned journalists, while pointing out that Morocco is quickly heading towards the title of worst country in the world for press liberty.
Laws are needed to ensure freedom of the press, expression and publication in Morocco, the head of the Organisation for the Freedom of Media and Expression said on May 3rd, sounding the alarm about the challenges journalists face while completing their work in the country.
Mohammed Al-Aouni said: “This day was supposed to be an opportunity to discuss and evaluate the state of the media, starting from the massive deficiency in freedom as a basis for media independence and professionalism.” He confirmed the authenticity of this by the “continued detention of journalists and bloggers, the restriction on free media work, and the monopolisation of public institutions and controls over private ones.”
His organisation, he added, has documented numerous violations and breaches of media and journalists’ freedom and digital communication freedom.
Morocco ranks 144th globally of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2023 issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Presently in Morocco, it would seem that journalists have few rights while out of prison and none whatsoever when they enter on what many believe to be trumped up charges orchestrated by the deep state, usually relating to sex.
According to Amnesty, at least four journalists and one academic have been denied the right to read and write in Moroccan prisons, it claims.
“According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela rules, prisoners should be allowed to read and work, to regularly have access to newspapers or the radio and access to a library” it says. “Prisoners in pre-trial detention should also be able to buy books, newspapers and writing materials” it is quoted by Middle East Monitor.
“The Moroccan authorities have long targeted dissenting writers and journalists with arrest and today is a day to remember all those imprisoned for their writing. To deprive imprisoned journalists of pens and paper is punitive, unnecessary and a deliberate attack on their freedom of expression,” said Rawya Rageh, Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“This World Press Freedom Day, we call on the Moroccan authorities to end this cruelty against journalists and academics. They must release journalists and academics who were imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure that access to newspapers, books and writing materials for prisoners is not arbitrarily restricted.”
Morocco’s general demise when it comes to freedom of speech and journalists’ liberties seems to have hit an all time low creating concerns in the European Parliament whose MEPs recently adopted a motion that Rabat needs to improve it record in this area. Human rights in general began to plummet from around 2010 onward in Morocco with few people able or willing to explain why, although, according to a recent scandal expose written by The Economist, much of the trend is due to the King himself wanting to take more of a back seat role in terms of governance and an over zealous head of security obsessing over media.