Wednesday 25 November 2015

#Justice4Morocco Postponed, But In Reach

Hicham Mansouri, Morocco, human rights
Journalist Hicham Mansouri, currently in jail, and 6 others face charges for their work as human rights defenders. [Source: LaSource]
A Moroccan trial originally scheduled for November 19 has been postponed until January, a testament to the power of international pushback.

According to the Washington Post, the Moroccan law violated was “support intended, or used, to finance an activity or propaganda capable of harming the integrity, sovereignty or independence of the Kingdom, or shaking the loyalty that citizens owe to the state and institutions of the Moroccan people.”

In reality, activists Maati Monjib, Hicham Mansouri, Abdessamad Iach, Mohamed Elsabr and Hisham Almiraat’s “crime” was training others to use StoryMaker, an Android app for citizen journalism, and in January could face up to five years’ imprisonment. Of the five accused, Mansouri has been in jail since March on official charges of adultery that are widely thought to have more to do with his work with the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI) than his personal life.

Additionally, Maria Moukrim and Rachid Tarik face charges of receiving foreign funding without properly notifying the government, as Free Press Unlimited, a Dutch NGO, funded the StoryMaker app project in Morocco.

These seven individuals have dedicated their time to not only AMJI and Free Press Unlimited, but also to the Association of Digital Rights (ADN), Global Voices, the Moroccan Association for Youth Education (AMEJ) and the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH)) and deserve recognition, not punishment, for the work that they have done.

Individuals and organizations opposed to the charges, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Free Press Unlimited, should be heartened by last week’s postponement, but this is one worthy fight that is not over yet. 

We encourage you to follow Front Line Defenders’ recommendation to tell Moroccan Minister of Justice Mustafa Ramid to:
  1. Immediately drop all the charges against Maati Monjib, Hisham Almiraat, Samad Iach, Hicham Mansouri, Mohamed Elsabr, Rachid Tarek and Maria Makram, as [you] believe that they are being targeted solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;  
  2. Refrain from any further harassment of the human rights defenders;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Morocco are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions. 

Want to know more about government repression of free speech? Read on!

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