Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 21
Political Influences: 23
Economic Pressures: 17
Total Score: 61
Life Expectancy: 70
Religious Groups: Muslim (98.7 percent), Christian (1.1 percent), Jewish (0.2 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab-Berber (99 percent), other (1 percent)
Status change explanation: Morocco's rating fell from Partly Free to Not Free due to the enactment of new restrictive legislation and the increasingly authoritarian measures applied against the independent media.
Respect for press freedom in Morocco rapidly deteriorated in 2003. The passage of a controversial new antiterrorism law in May reversed many of the press freedoms only recently enforced by the revised 2002 press code. Since May, the government has invoked Article 41 of the antiterror legislation to suppress press freedom – setting stricter limits on and penalties for speech offenses – under the pretext of protecting Moroccan territorial integrity. Through subsidies, advertising allocation, and onerous regulation and licensing procedures, the government closely monitors and controls media content. The highly publicized case of Ali Lmrabet, the country's best-known satirist, sentenced to three years in prison on charges of insulting the king and undermining the monarchy, is symbolic of the recent crackdown on independent media. Although the flourishing of independent media in the late 1990s resulted in government tolerance of coverage of subjects once off-limits – the monarchy, Western Sahara, Islam, and corruption – these topics have become increasingly sensitive and a source of harassment and censorship for foreign and local journalists alike. As a result, self-censorship among journalists is commonplace. Though access to the Internet and satellite TV is generally unrestricted, the Moroccan government banned pan-Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera from broadcasting in the country in March. Broadcast media remain mostly government controlled. The authorities often exclude opposition views during election campaigns. However, there are plans to end the state monopoly on television and radio.
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