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Annual Prison Census 2011 - Morocco

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 8 December 2011
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2011 - Morocco, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0420a98.html [accessed 21 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011

Morocco: 2

Rachid Nini, Al-Massae
Imprisoned: April 28, 2011

Nini, executive editor of the Moroccan daily Al-Massae, was arrested following the publication of several articles criticizing perceived abuses in the country's counterterrorism efforts. In May, a Casablanca court refused to release the prominent journalist on bail. His lawyers argued that their client was being improperly prosecuted under the penal code, which provides harsher penalties than the press code, according to news reports.

In June, he was sentenced to one year in prison for "denigrating judicial rulings" and "compromising the security and safety of the homeland and citizens." Nini was being held at Okacha Prison in Casablanca in late year, according to Al-Massae.

Long known as an outspoken government critic, Nini had also denounced official corruption, called for increased political freedom, and sought the annulment of Morocco's anti-terrorism law.

Mohamed al-Dawas, freelance
Imprisoned: September 5, 2011

Authorities arrested al-Dawas, a critical journalist who wrote for the blog Al-Fnidaq Online, in the northern city of Fnidaq, according to news reports. On September 22, a court in Tetouan sentenced the blogger to a 19-month prison sentence on drug trafficking charges and a fine of 20,000 dirhams (US$2,472), defense lawyer Abdel al-Sadiq al-Bushtawy told CPJ.

Al-Bushtawy said his client denied the drug trafficking allegations, which the defense considered retaliation for al-Dawas' critical writing. Al-Fnidaq Online features the work of several journalists who write about local government corruption. A report by the French news outlet France 24 quoted several local journalists as saying they, too, believed the arrest to be retaliation for al-Dawas' critical writing.

Al-Bushtawy told CPJ that the defense team was not given an adequate opportunity to present its case. In protest, the defense team withdrew from what it deemed unfair proceedings, and the court tried al-Dawas without counsel. An appeal was pending in late year.

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