Rabat - Recent allegations by British lawyer Rodney Dickson have brought the controversial Taoufik Bouachrine affair back to the public’s attention, after it was gradually fading from interest.
Rabat – Recent allegations by British lawyer Rodney Dickson have brought the controversial Taoufik Bouachrine affair back to the public’s attention, after it was gradually fading from interest.
Bouachrine, a Moroccan journalist, was arrested in March 2018 on charges of rape, human trafficking, and other behaviors related to sexual misconduct. Fifteen women, all of them workers or former colleagues, accused the journalist.
If some observers saw in the arrest of the prolific journalist the possibility of a Moroccan “Me too” movement and the emergence of courageous voices to challenge patriarchal practices, such as sexual misconduct said to be pervasive in Moroccan workplaces, others thought it was a defamatory campaign to tarnish the reputation of a dissident and truth-telling investigative journalist.
In his latest public statement, British lawyer Rodney Dickson, international legal advisor to the defendant, appealed to the international community to intervene in Morocco’s alleged disregard for his client’s most basic rights.
Dickson’s statements accused the Moroccan judiciary system of carrying out the desire of “some powerful people” in high offices who are nervous about Taoufik Bouachrine’s reputation for objective journalism.
Explaining that his client had been “framed,” the lawyer submitted “urgent correspondence to the UN,”pleading for them to intervene and “end this arbitrary arrest based on fabricated evidence” and “unfounded charges.”
However, a judiciary source closely following the case said such comments are “surprising and shocking” as they come from a lawyer who should know how an “ordinary criminal case” works.
Dickson’s “urgent correspondence” may have raised doubts among many now entertaining the thought that Bouachrine is perhaps a victim of his critical comments about some government officials. Aware of this, the source sent Morocco World News a “detailed account of the due process regarding criminal arrest in Moroccan law” to “show that Moroccan authorities have never violated Bouachrine’s rights.”
All legal procedures were diligently followed
From Bouachrine’s arrest to his ongoing trial, everything has been done in diligent regard of Morocco’s legal procedures and “total respect of international conventions on human rights.”
“The statement is surprising and full of inaccuracies and lies,” the source continued, as he argued that the lawyer’s only concern is to undermine Morocco’s improving records of human rights and respect for rule of law.
And in addition to “offending Morocco’s positive achievements and gains” in the legal field, Dickson’s latest position also “offends his client who, as a Moroccan national, should be proud of his country’s national institutions and judiciary system,” especially the attainment of judicial independence since the 2011 constitution.
The source insisted that Morocco’s judiciary is independent now, and only those who believe themselves above the law can question the legality of a procedure that has done its best to respect judicial provisions pertaining to the “serious charges of rape, violence, and human trafficking” levied against Taoufik Bouachrine.
“This affair was carried out on the basis of a judicial order made in accordance with the constitutional regulations stipulated by law, and in full respect of international law and human rights instruments ratified by the Kingdom of Morocco, and which are an integral part of the Moroccan legal system.”.
Play to affect the court’s decision
The judicial source is emphatically dismissive of reports of fabricated charges and evidence “concocted by powerful people trying to silence Taoufik.”He explained that those thinking it was a conspiracy orchestrated by “some powerful people” have been affected by the defense’s resort to painting the country’s legal authorities as having ulterior motives.
Taoufik Bouacrhine’s legal team are putting together a “transparent ploy whose sole purpose is to influence the course of the ongoing trial against him [Bouachrine] and the decisions of the judiciary that is considering his case,” the source further argued.
The Casablanca Bar has validated the authenticity of part of the evidence regarding many of the heavy charges facing Bouachrine, denouncing the “rabid behavior” of many of the defendants. For this, the source remained convinced that the video and audio recordings presented as evidence are authentic, “reliable and credible.”
He also said that many of the female journalists who are Bouachrine’s presumed victims attested to sexual exploitation and other “criminal acts” in their hearings. Rather than a place of free speech and objective journalism, Bouachrine’s office was “a place to enslave female workers.”
Maintaining that all of Bouachrine’s rights have been respected and “guaranteed throughout the ongoing fair, equitable, and impartial trial,” the source said that a British lawyer with “obviously no knowledge of Morocco’s legal procedures and criminal law” does not have the right to show such a blatantly condescending tone towards Moroccan justice.
“This is a media propaganda and a helpless attempt to internationalize an ordinary criminal case by a legal advisor who promotes false and escapist claims,” he concluded.