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Suspended prison sentences for four Moroccan journalists

The Parliament of Morocco in Rabat, 2 January 2018
The Parliament of Morocco in Rabat, 2 January 2018

Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

This statement was originally published on on 27 March 2019.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the absurd six-month suspended prison sentences and fines of 10,000 dirhams that a court in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, passed today on four journalists for covering a parliamentary commission's debate about the Moroccan Retiree Fund's deficit.

The four journalists - Mohammed Ahdad of the newspaper Almassae, Abdehak Belchkar, who is Akhbar Alyawm's Rabat bureau chief, and Eljarida 24 reporters Kawtar Zaki and Abdelilah Sakhir - were prosecuted as a result of a complaint by the speaker of the Moroccan parliament's upper chamber, known as the House of Councillors.

"Imposing suspended prison sentences on journalists who just did their job as reporters is completely unwarranted," RSF said. "This verdict is unjustified because it is based on a law specific to the functioning of the House of Councillors that criminalizes the publication of information about the work of its commissions. We point out that Morocco has had a new press law since 2016 that abolishes prison sentences for journalists."

Morocco is ranked 135rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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