Index: MDE 29/014/2010 Date: 29 June 2010
Morocco: Stop harassment of critical journalists
Amnesty International has called on the Moroccan government to cease harassing journalists who criticize the authorities or comment on issues considered “taboo”, Including the status of Western Sahara and self-determination for its inhabitants, and the monarchy, and to respect the right to freedom of expression. The organization made this call shortly after one journalist was sentenced to a six month prison term and as another faces trial on charges which appear to be politically motivated. Taoufik Bouachrine, a journalist and publisher of the daily Akhbar al-Youm Al-Maghribya newspaper, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and fined on 10 June after he was convicted of fraud by the Court of First Instance of Rabat. He had previously been acquitted in 2009 but the case was then reopened by the prosecuting authorities, possibly for politicallymotivated reasons on account of his writings criticizing the government. He has lodged an appeal and he is currently at liberty. He previously received a suspended four-year prison term after a court convicted him on 30 October 2009 of showing disrespect to the national flag and offending a member of the royal family. . Ali Amar, another journalist who has been critical of the monarchy, is facing trial on charges of fraud and theft brought under Article 505 of the Penal Code. His arrest and questioning by police was marked by irregularities. He was arrested on 4 June 2010 together with Zineb ElRhazoui when police broke into the latter’s home in Casablanca and searched it without producing a warrant, as required by Moroccan law.. Ali Amar and Zineb El-Rhazoui were taken to a police station and questioned for 12 hours, including about their writings, but then released. However, three days later Ali Amar was arrested in Rabat, taken back to Casablanca and detained for a further 24 hours and...