France’s highest judicial body is adamant about the country’s defamation law, but Morocco is hardly impressed.
Rabat – Morocco has seen its libel complaints rejected by the French Cassation Court, the country’s highest judicial body.
The court is adamant that states are not entitled to the same rights as persons.
In a plenary meeting on Friday, the court’s judges delivered rulings on three “priority matters of constitutionality” (QPC), which were mainly concerned with the defamation icomplaints that Morocco had lodged with French authorities.
According to AFP, Morocco seized French judicial authorities to denounce what it perceived as an organized defamation campaign to tarnish the North African country’s image, especially in terms of human rights and democratic overtures.
“Morocco’s complaints notably targeted [a number of] French journalists and Zakaria Moumni,” the newspaper noted.
While Rabat is suing the French journalists for their perceived unfair, biased, and “libelous” coverage of Moroccan affairs, the kingdom targeted Moumni, a Rabat-born former kickboxing champion, for “falsely” accusing Moroccan security services of resorting to torture and abuse in detention centers.
Moumni, who maintains he was “repeatedly tortured and raped” by Moroccan operatives between September 2010 and February 2012 when he visited his native country, has since been an avowed critic of the Moroccan security system.
Morocco has repeatedly sued the boxer for libel since 2015, but French judicial authorities have maintained that the case is “ineligible.”
In the court’s latest decision after the Friday meeting, judges concluded that as far as libel law is concerned, “No state, French or foreign, can sue individuals.” It added: “The 29 July 1881 law [on freedom of speech] only condemns public defamation directed at individuals.”
But Morocco, unsatisfied, rejected the Cassation Court’s ruling. The kingdom’s legal representatives argued that people should not hide behind the law to make slanderous remarks of an entire country.
The court has scheduled a new hearing for April 12, 2019, giving Rabat the opportunity to appeal the latest decision. Given the Cassation Court’s history with complainant states on matters of defamation, a legal victory for Rabat seems unlikely.