43 cases of censorship and Morocco’s rise of repression

Journalism, repression, Morocco

As Morocco’s chief of police continues to control the country’s governance and excessive repression of press freedoms, there appears to be a link between the crackdown and Morocco’s accessibility to foreign investments and a sharp demise of what’s left of the country’s human rights record, according to a recent report.

On the 29th May, a new freedom rights group published a 22-page document detailing 43 cases of infringement upon freedoms of expression and the repression of the press in Morocco, the ENass reported, without actually mentioning by name Morocco’s police chief.

The National Authority for Support of Prisoners of Conscience and Victims of Violations of Freedom of Expression held a press briefing in Rabat to present the report and “inform national and international public opinion on the human rights situation, and the trials against citizens.”

READ: Omar Radi: Martyred in Morocco’s culling of the free press

Although the Conseil de L’Europe’s ‘Freedom of Expression” website claims that “Cooperation between Morocco and the Council of Europe in the Media Eilidh has been going on for some years now”, and vaguely promises that “the project will build on the results achieved by previous projects…to reinforce legal and institutional framework conducive for freedom of expression.”, Morocco’s continuous arrests of journalists suggests otherwise.

Amnesty reported in 2019 that human rights defenders were being unlawfully targeted by NSO spyware that was developed in Israel and used to digitally observe individuals to restrict and limit their freedoms of expression.

The concerns of “the numerous cases where citizens are prosecuted for having expressed their opinions on the management of public policies by criticising the authorities,” are what drove the creation and publishing of the report.

The report notes that 15 cases were linked to mobilisations for Palestine and opposed to Morocco’s normalisation ties with Israel – which are a consequence of the Abraham Accords and the US and Israeli recognition of Morocco as the sovereign to Western Sahara.

The Moroccan rights coalition report states that there is “Repression against anti-normalisation activists, bloggers, journalists and peaceful protestors [who] opposed this unpopular policy.”

Sofiane Chater, an activist who expressed a pro-Palestinian opinion, was prosecuted by the Public Prosecutor before the Court of First Instance on 14th May for “entry on a playing field without legitimate reason during a football match.”, as he carried a Palestinian flag into the Berkane stadium.

In various nationwide crackdowns that were instigated by Morocco’s chief of police, Abdellatif Hammouchi, many journalists have found themselves incarcerated for exposing corruption within Morocco.

Omar Radi is currently serving a six-year prison sentence after his arrest in 2020 for “undermining state security and sexual assault.” Press freedom advocates believe that Radi’s charges were related to his investigative work.



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