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Journalists and Online Commentators Face Persecution for Critical Reporting

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Rwanda may well require journalists, activists, and diplomats to toe the line of the government’s ever-growing list of forbidden topics. In a country where the president coolly gives speeches gloating about the…
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaks during the state funeral of Kenya’s former president, Daniel arap Moi, at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, February 11, 2020.
News

Joint Call to Moroccan Authorities

As the trial of award-winning journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi is set to begin in Morocco on April 6, 2021, the undersigned organizations call on Moroccan authorities to grant him provisional release and guarantee fair trial proceedings…
Logos of 15 signatory organizations
News

Omar Radi Abusively Jailed on Charges That Seem Flimsy, Political

  (Washington, DC) – Moroccan authorities have jailed an outspoken journalist and activist, Omar Radi, on espionage and other charges that seem backed by scant evidence, Human Rights Watch said today. His judicial investigation, scheduled to…
Journalist and activist Omar Radi waits outside the court in Casablanca, Morocco, March 12, 2020.
News

Two Prosecutions Highlight Threats to Press Freedom

Morocco and Algeria are neighbors and rivals, sharing one of the world’s longest closed-land borders, vying for diplomatic supremacy in the Maghreb region, sparring over Western Sahara, and insulting each other’s governments daily via state-influenced…
Journalists Khaled Drareni (Left) and Omar Radi (Right)
News

Two Women Face Justice for Covid-19 Jokes

It all started with harmless jokes. But because they chose humor to push back against the Coronavirus and lockdown-generated anxiety, a young Moroccan woman is now in prison, and a Tunisian woman could soon share her fate. In Morocco, the story…
People shop in the Central Market of Tunis during the first days of Ramadan, Tunis, Tunisia April 28, 2020.
News

Courts Ignored Assault, Jailed Victims

(New York) – A video that appeared to capture a beating of two Western Sahara activists by the Moroccan police is authentic and should lead to a thorough investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch was recently able to…
Screenshot of a video showing policemen severely beating two activists in Smara, Western Sahara, on June 7, 2019.
News

Faces Up to a Year in Prison at January 2 Trial

(Tunis, December 28, 2019) – Moroccan authorities should unconditionally release and drop charges against a journalist jailed for a 9 months-old tweet criticizing a judge, Human Rights Watch said today. Omar Radi, 33, is due to be tried…
Journalist Omar Radi in Casablanca, Morocco, 2018. © Fanny Hedenmo
News

Repeal Laws that Compromise Privacy, Freedom of Conscience

(Tunis) - The Moroccan parliament should adopt the groundbreaking proposals made by a government-appointed body to enshrine individual freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today. In a memorandum published on October 28, 2019, the National Human…
A couple sitting by the ocean in Rabat, Morocco.
News
(New York) – Casablanca’s appeals court, on April 6, 2019, confirmed the heavy sentences against more than 40 protesters and activists despite allegations of torture, Human Rights Watch said today. The defendants include Nasser Zefzafi…
Moroccans take part in a demonstration against what they perceive as the marginalization of the Rif region, in the town of Al-Hoceima, Morocco early June 3, 2017.
News

5-Year Sentence Based on Possibly Coerced Confession

(Tunis) – Moroccan authorities should urgently review the conviction of an activist sentenced to five years in prison in possible reprisal for his activism in a social protest movement, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should ensure that no…
Elmortada Iamrachen in Casablanca, Morocco, 2017. © 2017 Le Desk
News

Respond to Youth Demands, Gain Respect in the World

(Beirut) – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments can respond to the popular demands of the region’s youth for reform by implementing five changes in 2018 to arbitrary, outdated legal systems that infringe upon citizens’ rights and liberties,…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
News

Hamid Mahdaoui Convicted for Criticizing Protest Ban

UPDATE: On September 11, 2017, the Al-Hoceima Appeals Court increased the three-month prison sentence handed down by the Al-Hoceima First Instance Court against Mahdaoui on July 25, 2017, to one year. (Tunis) – A Moroccan court on…
Screenshot from a video of Hamid Mahdaoui, a Moroccan journalist and director of the news website badil.info, speaking on his Youtube channel.
Report
Summary The mayor said, “All thieves must be killed.” He said it was an order. −Witness to the execution of Fulgence Rukundo on December 6, 2016 Rwandan security forces summarily executed at least…
News

Possible State Security Charges for Charismatic Figure in Rif

(Tunis) – Police arrested and severely beat the de facto leader of ongoing social protests in Morocco’s Rif region, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today, based on an account the protest leader gave his lawyer.…
Moroccan activist Nasser Zefzafi gives a speech during a demonstration against injustice and corruption in the northern town of al-Hoceima, Morocco, May 18, 2017.
Report
Summary Since Mohammed VI became king in 1999, tens of Moroccans have been imprisoned solely for their nonviolent speech, under both the press code and the penal code. They include journalists convicted of defaming persons,…
News

Harsh Penal Code Undercuts Press Law Reforms

(Tunis) – Morocco’s recent overhaul of its speech laws leaves intact the country’s famous red lines on critical speech, as well as other provisions that could land people in prison solely for peaceful expression, Human Rights Watch said…
Newsstand in Rabat, Morocco. © 2017 Human Rights Watch
News

Norway Deported Nkusi, Who Faces Prosecution in Rwanda

Joseph Nkusi is a Rwandan blogger who has sharply criticized Rwanda’s government, made false and inflammatory claims about the 1994 genocide, and founded a radical opposition group while living in exile in Norway. Next Monday, he is slated to go on trial…
A general view of Rwanda's capital Kigali, March 26, 2014.
News

Government Defies Administrative Court Judgments

(Tunis) – Moroccan authorities have carried out a two-year campaign of prohibiting and obstructing activities of the country’s largest independent human rights organization, Human Rights Watch said today. The harassment shows no signs of a let-up despite…
Activists from the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) demonstrate after local authorities prohibit them from holding a planned training workshop, Rabat-Morocco, December 2014
News

‘Mr. Crazy’ Served 3 Months For Music Videos

(Casablanca) – Othman Atiq, a 17-year-old Moroccan rapper known as “Mr. Crazy,” is due to be released by Moroccan authorities on November 12, 2014, after completing a three-month sentence for “offending a state institution,” “harming public morality,” and…