Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its Spanish section have co-signed a letter to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI calling on his government to issue identity papers to Ali Lmrabet, a Moroccan journalist who has been on hunger strike outside the UN offices in Geneva since 24 June in protest against his being “deprived of his national identity.”
The Moroccan authorities are refusing to give Ali Lmrabet a new passport and a document certifying that he is a resident of the city of Tétouan – documents he needs in order to resume working as a journalist in Morocco following the expiry in April of a ten-year ban on practicing his profession. Human rights defenders and journalists wrote the letter because of growing concern about Lmrabet’s state of health and the lack of response from the Moroccan authorities. Released on 22 July, it is co-signed by international human rights organizations and by many well-known figures. “Without a residence certificate, passport and other documents relating to journalism work, Ali Lmrabet would become the first Moroccan to be deprived of his civil and political rights,” the letter says. It calls on the king to ensure “the strict application of the Moroccan constitution’s provisions as regards the right of every citizen and in this case, Ali Lmrabet’s right to fully and freely exercise his profession as journalist and as editor of his publications in Morocco.” “By refusing to issue up-to-date administrative documents to Ali Lmrabet, the Moroccan authorities are trying to prevent him from creating his newspaper,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, one of the letter’s signatories. “The Moroccan authorities have always had this journalist in their sights but they must now quickly end this situation, which is putting his life in increasing danger. They cannot continue to turn a deaf ear to Ali Lmrabet’s legitimate request.” Lmrabet edited the satirical newspaper Demain and its sister publication, Demain Magazine, until they were banned in 2003. RSF has always supported him and included him in the list of “100 Information Heroes” that it issued last year. In theory, Lmrabet has been able to resume working as a journalist in Morocco since the 10-year ban on his practicing his profession was lifted on 11 April. But in practice, the refusal to issue him with up-to-date documents is preventing him from relaunching his newspaper.