As of December 31, 1998

As in other monarchies in the Middle East, Morocco's King Hassan II sets the tone for permissible journalism in the kingdom. Although the country's private newspapers sometimes offer critiques of government policies, there is widspread self-censorship on political issues. Journalists shy away from critical news coverage of the monarchy and expressions of skepticism about the country's territorial sovereignty over Western Sahara, because they are guaranteed to provoke authorities' ire.

The government has a variety of tools at its disposal to pressure outspoken newspapers. The press code prescribes stiff penalties for journalists who publish news that offends the king or other members of the royal family, or defames public officials. Under the press and penal codes, authorities have the power to confiscate or suspend publications that, among other things, are deemed a "threat to public order." And foreign publications that report unfavorably about the king and government officials risk confiscation or outright ban.

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