The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) said in a report on the 3rd of August, that it has recorded “dozens of cases of legal proceedings” against internet users over the past two years.
The AMDH say that those proceedings had started on the basis of political opinions, investigations, press articles published on social media sites, or because of participation in peaceful demonstrations, according to The New Arab, August 4.
The report concluded that sentences handed down over the past two years ranged from a few months to six years in prison. Only five defendants were found to be not guilty.
Ordinary people in Morocco have been arrested for criticism of Islam, the monarchy, as well as civil servants.
Many in the country have made the claim that King Mohammed VI of Morocco has been normalising ties with Israel at a time when the Middle Eastern country shifts further to the right and the mistreatment of the Palestinians remains a concern.
A court in the country’s largest city, Casablanca sentenced an internet user to five years in jail for criticism of the king on Facebook over Morocco’s stance on Israel.
Rights activists say the law in Morocco hinders freedom of expression, and its wording “does not specify exactly what might constitute an attack” on the monarchy.
The authorities say they are fighting against defamation and “attacks against individual freedoms” on social networks, noting that these “crimes” are punishable by imprisonment.
Under the constitution, foreign affairs are the prerogative of the monarch, King Mohammed VI.
In July, non-governmental organisation (NGO), Human Rights Watch said, “Morocco has been using criminal trials, especially for alleged sexual offences, as “techniques of repression” to silence journalists and government critics”.
In September 2019, Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni, a critic of the Moroccan government, was sentenced to a year in prison on false charges of having an illegal abortion and premarital sex in what was seen as an attempt to stifle criticism of the government.
Many journalism watchdogs have raised concerns over Morocco’s strict speech laws and press freedom.
In July 2020, investigative journalist, Omar Radi was arrested and charged. He has previously written about corruption in the country.
Reporters Without Borders, an NGO committed to securing press freedom worldwide, ranked Morocco 144th out of 180 countries according to the most recent World Press Freedom Index. This is down by nine rankings from 2022.
THE NEW ARAB