By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, October 4, 2012
The ministry of communication has formed a committee to examine the bill outlining the press code and edition. Larbi Messari, ex minister of communication and a renowned writer and journalist was appointed at the helm of this committee. He is expected to collaborate with 13 other influential members.
According to the Moroccan daily “Le Soir Echos”, the committee includes Mohammed Machichi Idrissi Alami, ex minister of justice, Younes Moujahid, the president of the National Union of the Moroccan Press, Nourredine Miftah, the president of the Moroccan Federation of Newspapers Editors.
The makeup of the consultation committee mirrors the government’s alacrity to promulgate a comprehensive law that grapples with the main problematic issues in the press.
Indeed, a law designed by professionals through discussions and consensus is more likely to meet the demands of the sector’s professionals. Mr. Messari explains “We are not an institution but each member will submit their suggestions. Logic is the only criteria that will count.”
The committee is expected to submit the final version of suggestions to the minister of communication after 4 to 5 months of consultations and drafting. The committee will have to engage in a constructive debate, taking into account the interests and rights of professionals, as well as the government priorities.
The minister of communication Mr. El Khalfi explained that “enforcing the constitution and more particularly the article 28 is the real challenge facing Morocco. All the press professionals have the right to express their opinion and diffuse information in within the limits set by the law.” He went on to say that “article 28 of the constitution guarantees the immunity for the press against any form of censorship.”
One of the thorniest issues raised in the promulgation of the press code is the sanctions and charges against journalists. The minister of communication asserts “Our country has articulated its commitment to abolish custodial sentences for press professionals during the Human Rights Council session in Geneva.” The minister of communication adds that the journalists are liable to pay a fine if they reiterate the same offense.
Laila Halaoui in her article in the Moroccan Daily Le soir Echos “ The Press Code, Very Soon” asserts that the announced reforms cannot came to fruition without the actual empowerment of the human resources by granting them more efficient social services as well as the right to professional development.
This said ?the record of vindictive sanctions against journalists in Morocco is not propitious. The case of Moroccan journalist Rachid Nini who served a one-year sentence behind bars for his satirical column against high ranked official sowed the seeds of mistrust among press professionals.
The pressing question remains how much of the committee suggestion will be left, how much will be amended and how much will be simply discarded once a consensual agreement is reached.
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