HRW claimed that the prison held the journalist in a form of “abusive solitary confinement for more than a year.”
Rabat – The administration of Casablanca’s Ain Borja Prison has rejected a report from Human Rights Watch that claims imprisoned Moroccan journalist Taoufik Bouachrine is being held in an “abusive solitary confinement.”
The prison issued a statement asserting that Bouachrine is benefiting from all human rights like any other prisoner “without any discrimination” in accordance with the laws governing prisons.
The administration said that Bouachrine is being held in a solitary cell at his request.
Bouachrine had asked to join a cell with other prisoners, and the administration accepted his request, planning to move his belongings to a collective cell. “Nevertheless, the detainee finally withdrew his request, preferring to stay in his cell.”
Bouachrine’s cell “has all the necessary hygienic conditions, including ventilation and natural light,” according to the prison.
The administration also argued that security services in the prison “behave with him the way they do with other prisoners, as part of their duties.”
The prison “responded positively to several requests submitted by [Bouachrine], concerning needs relating to his health and the state of his accomodation.”
In addition, the administration said, Bouachrine regularly “receives visits from his wife, children and other family members.” He is also allowed to make telephone calls. The journalist also receives daily newspapers at his request.
In November 2018, Casablanca’s Court of Appeals sentenced Bouachrine to 12 years in prison. Bouachrine faces charges of human trafficking, rape with violence, and sexual assault. However, some, including Prince Moulay Hicham, believe the convictions were political retribution for Bouachrine’s investigative work into powerful Moroccan figures.
Bouachrine was the director of one of Morocco’s major newspapers Akhbar Al Yaoum and its online version, Alyaoum24.
In February 2018, Moroccan police seized 50 tapes allegedly depicting sexual acts as evidence of Bouachrine’s crimes. The journalist was arrested after several women working in his newspaper filed complaints, accusing him of assault.