Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has gone to Morocco to attend the trials of two journalists who have been jailed for more than a year and who are in very poor health as a result of going on hunger strike. RSF calls on King Mohammed to intercede to avoid the worst.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire and Samir Bouaziz, the head of RSF's Tunis-based North Africa desk, went to the Casablanca courthouse today to observe the trials of journalists Omar Radi and Souleiman Raissouni.
"The king can avoid the death of a journalist," Deloire said at a press conference outside the court. "Only the monarchy is now in a position to prevent a human disaster for press freedom. As guarantor of the rights and freedoms of Moroccan citizens, the king is responsible for safeguarding the country's constitutional principles and the universal principles to which it has subscribed. We have sent him a letter requesting the release of Omar Radi and Souleiman Raissouni, who must be given a fair trial. Spurious sex charges must stop being used against journalists in Morocco."
Both journalists, who are known for being critical of the government, have staged hunger strikes in protest against the unfairness of the proceedings brought against them, in which they are facing up ten years in prison on sex charges,
Raissouni, the editor of the Akhbar al-Yaoum newspaper, who stopped eating 76 days ago and who reports that he has lost 32 kilos, was taken to hospital last weekend. He now has difficulty speaking and his right leg is virtually paralysed. Radi, a reporter for the news website Le Desk, had to suspend his hunger strike because of complications linked to the Crohn's disease from which he suffers.
During its visit to Morocco, the RSF delegation also met with journalists and press freedom defenders at the headquarters of the Moroccan Human Rights Associations (AMDH), and with the families of the two journalists.
Morocco is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.