Morocco climbed two ranks in the 2020 world press freedom index, which reported that some Moroccans journalists still face judicial harassment.
Rabat – Morocco has ranked 133rd out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom index, compiled by the international NGO Reporters Without Borders.
Morocco earned a score of 42.88 on a 0-100 scale, with zero being the best and 100 the worst. The score puts the country in the “difficult situation” category.
The new rank is two positions higher than the 2019 index. However, journalists are still suffering from judicial harassment, according to the report.
“Morocco has risen two places in the 2020 index, above all because of the creation of a Press Council, even if it has not as yet helped to make the environment for media and journalists any less threatening,” said the report.
“Judicial harassment continues. In addition to the trials of a number of media figures that have dragged on for several years, several new prosecutions have been initiated and heavy sentences have been passed,” the document continued.
The report gave the example of Taoufik Bouachrine, an editor at the Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined over $255,000 on rape charges. Bouachrine denied the charges, insisting that he was the victim of a “political trial.”
The document also recalled the case of journalist and activist Omar Radi who received a four-month suspended prison sentence for a tweet criticizing a judge.
The ranking takes into consideration seven criteria to measure the freedom of press in countries: Pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, infrastructure, and abuses.
Morocco ranked eighth in the Middle East and North Africa region, behind Tunisia (72nd globally), Israel (88th), Lebanon (102nd), Kuwait (109th), Jordan (128th), Qatar (129th) and the United Arab Emirates (131st).
On the continental level, Morocco ranked 38th. According to the index, countries in southern Africa were among the best African states for journalists, with Namibia ranking 23rd globally, South Africa 31st, and Botswana 39th.
Several West African states were also ranked high in the index, such as Ghana (30th worldwide), Burkina Faso (38th), and Senegal (47th).
Globally, Scandinavian countries ranked best, with Norway earning the first spot on the index, followed by Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.
Meanwhile, the bottom ranks include China (177th globally), followed by Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and North Korea.