Morocco’s court of cassation rejects final appeals by two jailed journalists
A year and a half after Moroccan journalists Soulaimane Raissouni and Omar Radi were sentenced on appeal to five and six years in prison respectively, their final appeals have been rejected by the country’s highest court, the court of cassation in Rabat. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regrets this decision and urges the Moroccan authorities to use Throne Day on 30 July as an occasion to end the ordeal that these two journalists and their families have endured since early 2022.
The court of cassation rejected their appeals yesterday (18 July), claiming their trials were “just and fair.” Awaited with much apprehension by the journalists and their families, the court’s decision had been postponed twice, on 21 June and 13 July.
“There had been a tenuous hope that, because of the manyirregularities seen during their trials. the court of cassation would again request new trials for Omar Radi and Soulaimane Raissouni. This would have sent a strong signal to the Moroccan judicial system about press freedom and journalists’ rights. This hope has unfortunately been dashed, and the signal sent is a disastrous one. RSF now calls on the Moroccan authorities to put an end to this inhuman judicial ordeal and to release Radi and Raissouni.
RSF sees two possibilities in the wake of this decision. Firstly, King Mohamed VI could issue a royal pardon for the two journalists. Such pardons are usually issued only after a request has been submitted to the king by the persons concerned. Radi and Raissouni have so far not given any indication that they would do this. The second possibility is a decision taken at the highest level to release of prisoners of conscience and detained journalists as part of a political opening, one that Morocco as long been awaiting.
Ever since Raissouni’s conviction was upheld on appeal in February 2022 and Radi’s was upheld the following month, the Moroccan prison administration has done everything possible to make their conditions in prison unbearable.
International condemnation of the arbitrary treatment inflicted on these two Moroccan journalists has grown in recent monthsand, at the prompting of many NGOs including RSF, the European Parliament adopted a historic resolution in January calling for Radi’s release.
The resolution also condemning the misuse of allegations of sexual assault to dissuade journalists from carrying out their duties, which it said endangers women’s rights. And it mentioned the cases of Raissouni and Taoufik Bouachrine, the publisher of the now closed newspaper that Raissouni once edited. Like Radi, they have also been the victims of trumped-up sex charges.