On Thursday, November 19th, several trainers affiliated with Small World News and our partner Free Press Unlimited will go on trial in Morocco, accused of threatening the security of the state. SWN is appalled at the Moroccan authorities’ mistreatment of our colleagues in particular and journalists in general. Today we hope you will take a stand with us and call on the Moroccan government to void their charges.
You can take action by signing this letter from Frontline Defenders, and sending it on to Morocco’s Minister of Justice.
Small World News first worked with journalists and activists in Morocco when we ran a Training of Trainers workshop in Rabatin June, 2013. SWN co-founder Brian Conley found trainees ambitious to increase the independence of Moroccan media and improve the quality of journalism in the country. The Centre Ibn Rochd d'Etudes et de Communication (the Ibn Rochd Centre for Communications Studies) has held numerous workshops since our ToT. But nearly one year ago, after increasing pressure from the Moroccan government, the Centre announced it would close at the end of 2014.
After a campaign of harassment including confiscation of mobile phones for use in a mobile journalism training, investigations were opened into a number of trainers involved with the Ibn Rochd Centre. Initially Samad Ayach, project coordinator at the Centre, was interrogated, and banned from traveling. Since August, three other trainers have been interrogated in relation to these activities: Maria Moukrim, Karima Nadir, and Hicham Mansouri. Hicham is currently in prison on a charges of adultery. He maintains the charge is a reprisal for his critique of the Moroccan government.
As a result of the investigations, each of these individuals as well as Maati Monjib, former director of the Ibn Rochd Centre, Mohamed Elsabr, and Rachid Tarek, are facing a trial that begins this Thursday, November 19th. Today we join Free Press Unlimited and twelve other organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Article 19, calling for the Moroccan authorities to drop all charges against our colleagues. Free Press Unlimited has written a statement of support for the Moroccan trainers soon to face trial.
According to Human Rights Watch the Moroccan authorities “have increasingly suffocated independent media, which flourished in the 2000s. A mix of police harassment, unfair trials delivering heavy fines to outspoken journalists and media, and royal palace-orchestrated advertisement embargoes drove many independent newspapers to close.”
At Small World News we stand for the idea that there are no free societies without freedom of the press. We hope you will join us in expressing solidarity for our colleagues in Morocco and calling for their charges to be dismissed. These charges and their chilling effect on press freedom are a threat to us all.
Small World News trainer Mohamed Nasri contributed to this post.