Reporters without Borders has ranked Morocco 135 out of 180 countries for safety of journalists, describing its media climate as “very difficult.”
Rabat – The media advocacy organization Reporters without Borders (RSF) ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries in its 2019 annual report on freedom of press.
RSF described Morocco as a “very difficult” country in which to practice journalism, along with 29% of all the countries it studied. RSF blamed the difficulties journalists in Morocco face on “judicial harassment.”
The organization reported that, in addition to legal proceedings against professional and citizen journalists, Moroccan “authorities deliberately obstructed the national and foreign media that tried to cover the so-called Hirak protests in northern Morocco’s Rif region, as well as reporting on migration, a subject that is now off limits.”
On Thursday, April 18, Reporters Without Borders released the report, which measures the degree of safety journalists have.
The outcomes are based on “pooling the responses of experts” through a questionnaire that measures pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
Journalism in North Africa
According to the report, both Morocco and Algeria took steps backward. Morocco scored 44.98 (on a scale in which 0 is best and 100 is worst), compared to 43.13 in the 2018 report. While Morocco maintained its 135th ranking since 2018, it has been sliding down the ranking of 130th in the 2015 report.
Of the 336 journalists who remained in prison in 2018, RSF notes eight were in Morocco. Morocco arrested eight journalists, citizen-journalists, and media assistants between May and August 2017: Hamid El Mahdaoui, Rabiaa Lablak, Houssein El Idrissi, Jawad Al Sabity, Abdelkabir Al Hor, Abdelali Haddou, Fouad Assaidi, and Mohamed Al Asrihi.
With a score of 45.75, Algeria now ranks 141st and has ranked steadily worse since its 2014 ranking of 121st.
For other countries in North Africa, Tunisia ranked 72nd, Mauritania ranked 94th, Libya ranked 162nd, and Egypt ranked 163rd.
Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication rejected RSF’s 2018 report as “biased” and “inaccurate,” arguing that Morocco enjoys “an atmosphere of freedom and independence, without any direct or indirect censorship.”
The report estimates the number of journalists killed at 80 in 2018. The organization found that Afghanistan was the most dangerous country to be a journalist, and the Capital Gazette shooting made the United States another of the “deadliest” countries for journalists.
RSF was able to verify that eight journalists were killed as a direct result of their journalistic work in 2018, including one citizen journalist and one media assistant.