In Morocco, TrialWatch is monitoring how the authorities are using a wide arsenal of laws, such money-laundering, espionage, or sex-related offences, in a bid to suppress journalism and dissent and publicly discredit critics. For instance, in two trials, journalists have been convicted of sex crimes. These growing prosecutions targeting journalists – particularly those associated with opposition media outlets or who report on government corruption – points to a climate of increased government intolerance towards independent journalism.
Investigative journalist and outspoken government critic Omar Radi has been prosecuted by the authorities on two separate occasions, with both trials monitored by CFJ’s partner the University of Southern California Gould School of Law Human Rights Clinic as part of TrialWatch. In the first trial, Radi was convicted and given a suspended sentence of four months’ imprisonment and a fine for “insulting the judiciary” based on a single tweet in which he criticized an appellate judge for upholding severe sentences against Hirak Rif protestors. The Fairness Report on the case, which assigned his trial a grade of ‘D,’ found several violations of his fair trial rights as well as his right to freedom of expression. Shortly after the conclusion of his first trial, Radi was tried again, this time for rape and undermining national security. These proceedings followed shortly after Amnesty International published a report alleging that Morocco had used ‘Pegasus’ to surveil him. The trial, which resulted in his conviction and a 6-year prison sentence, bore the hallmarks of an unfair process, with the Court denying Radi the opportunity to present evidence in his defence without justification. The Fairness Report on this second case also assigned his trial a grade of D.
Hajar Raissouni, a journalist affiliated with opposition newspaper Akhbar al-Youm, was prosecuted and convicted of engaging in premarital sex and “intentionally obtaining an abortion.” Raissouni has alleged that her prosecution was a politically motivated attempt to silence her for her political writings—an allegation born out by a trial marred by blatant breaches of due process. TrialWatch’s Fairness Report concluded that the Court convicted Raissouni despite insufficient evidence to substantiate the charges levelled against her, and prevented her from preparing an adequate defence.
The trial of leading journalist and academic Maâti Monjib, who was arrested in late 2020 on suspicion of money laundering based on allegations that he received funding from foreign sources that he then diverted for his own use. If found guilty, Monjib could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. While Monjib has been released from pre-trial detention, the pre-trial process has been marred by irregularities, and has taken a considerable toll on Monjib’s health, who lost 25 pounds on hunger strike.
The trial of Moroccan investigative journalist Omar Radi, who was convicted of national security offences and rape and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, “involved serious violations of international fair trial standards,” a TrialWatch report that gave Radi’s trial a grade of ‘D'.
The trial of journalist Omar Radi for ‘insulting the judiciary’ based on a single tweet about a judge’s ruling did not meet basic international human rights standards for assuring a fair trial.
At Hajar Raissouni’s trial on charges of non-marital intercourse and abortion, Ms. Raissouni was denied critical rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including her right to a hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal.