Morocco: Demonstration to support four journalists and Unionist MP

March 7th 2019

On Wednesday, March 6, hundreds of journalists, trade unionists and civil society activists demonstrated before the Court of First Instance in Rabat, Morocco, in response to an appeal launched by the Democratic Confederation of Labor (CDT) and the National Press of Morocco Trade Union (SNPM).

The protesters chanted slogans of support for the four journalists concerned (Mohamed Ahdad - Al Massae, Abdelhak Belachgar - Akhbar Al Yaoum, Kaoutar Zaki and Abdelilah Sakhir - Aljarida24) and the parliamentarian and head of the CDT, Abdelkader Hissane. They are prosecuted for disclosing confidential information, following the publication of excerpts from debates of a parliamentary commission of inquiry on the deficit of the Moroccan Pension Fund.

The SNPM has expressed fears that this trial is “a political settlement between the political groups in the Chamber of Councilors,” while journalists have simply “fulfilled their mission to report precise and accurate data.” For the CDT, this trial is a purely politicized case, mounted from scratch, which targets the right to organize.

A new Press Code, which no longer provides for prison sentences, came into force in August 2016. But journalists continue to be prosecuted under the Criminal Code. Articles 446 and 129 thereof condemn complicity in violations, crimes, offenses and disclosures of professional secrecy. NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Freedom Now are concerned about the convictions of journalists under the Criminal Code. In its latest annual press freedom ranking, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries.