Rabat - Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter via the U.S. Embassy in Morocco urging United States Secretary of State John Kerry to raise a number of concerns about freedom of information in Morocco on his upcoming visit to Rabat.
Rabat – Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter via the U.S. Embassy in Morocco urging United States Secretary of State John Kerry to raise a number of concerns about freedom of information in Morocco on his upcoming visit to Rabat.
The international organization voiced its concerns about the freedom of information in Morocco highlighting the case of Ali Anouzla, the editor of news website Lakome, who is being prosecuted under an anti-terrorism law for posting a link to a video attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
RWB said in the letter that lack of “freedom of information in Morocco, which ranked 136th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, is the source of a number of other concerns that require concrete measures by the authorities in order to improve respect for the right to inform and be informed.”
The organization stressed the need for legal reforms that would “fully guarantee” the principle of freedom of information. It also regarded the promises of reform announced by Moroccan authorities after the 2011 constitutional referendum to have been “slow to materialize.”
Reporters Without Borders underscored the urgent need to eliminate media offences both in the press and penal code.
“Media offences urgently need to be decriminalized both in the press code (article 41) and in the penal code (articles 179, 54, 65 and 66), without any resulting increase in the size of fines, which must continue to be proportionate. And the law must clearly and precisely define these offences, especially ‘insults’ and ‘grave insults,’ which are extremely subjective and give the authorities, especially judges, a great deal of scope for arbitrary decisions,” it added.
RWB also called for judiciary reform to ensure that judges are independent and that a special law takes primacy over a general law so that no provision in the penal code is applied when a media offence is concerned.
It also underlined the need for an independent and transparent mechanism for issuing press cards and accreditation to Moroccan and foreign journalists working for both national and international media.
“Neither the issuing nor withdrawal of a press card or accreditation should be the result of an arbitrary political decision. A decision to withdraw should be exceptional and should be taken by court,” highlighted RWB.
The international organization stressed the need for independent and transparent mechanisms to allocate direct state subsidies to the media, to allocate state and private-sector advertising, and to regulate or provide for self-regulating of the print and broadcast media.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed