Punitive measures apply to those who undermine the country’s COVID-19 response, including by spreading fake news, failing to wear masks, and gathering in public.
Rabat – Over the span of 25 days, Moroccan authorities brought 25,857 people to justice for violating the state of emergency rules.
Since March 24, security services arrested a total of 41,536 suspects throughout Morocco for breaching the measures. Over 2,770 of these arrests were made within one 24 hour period between April 16 and 17.
Over 96% of the arrested individuals have been men, while approximately 4% were women, and 2.5% have been minors.
Authorities have prosecuted 70 people for spreading fake news related to the pandemic. Among these prosecutions is Moroccan Youtube influencer Mi Naima. The Fez native was sentenced to one year in prison for claiming that COVID-19 does not exist on her Youtube channel, which has over 467,000 followers.
“Fake news is the first cause of panic among citizens,” warned Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani.
Parliament adopted decrees No. 2.20.292 and 2.20.293 on March 23 to counter the spread of COVID-19 with an official state of emergency. The country entered its state of emergency on March 20, and the ensuing laws legally restrict the movement of people to essential reasons and forbid all gatherings.
Law enforcement officials reserve the right to stop anyone and require them to show government authorization justifying their presence in public.
Within decree 2.20.292, article 3 ensures that the government provides protective face masks to the public at a fair price. Of the prosecutions made, 2,593 were for not complying with the mandate to wear a protective face mask in public.
Article 4 outlines punitive measures for those who do not comply. Anyone who violates state of emergency guidelines or fails to wear a mask in public is subject to a prison sentence of one to three months and/or a fine between MAD 300 and MAD 1,300 ($30 to $130).
“So far, the state of health emergency in Morocco appears to be consistent with Morocco’s human rights obligations,” wrote Abdessalam Jaldi, an international relations research assistant at the Rabat’s Policy Center for the New South.
According to Article 81 of the Moroccan constitution, the government has the right to adopt decrees under necessary and emergency situations, which are immediately put into effect.
On April 18, Morocco confirmed 2,685 COVID-19 cases. With an increasing number of both coronavirus cases and arrests, security services have made it clear that they will not hesitate to enforce the law against violations that jeopardize the state of emergency and pose a risk to Morocco’s people.