Souleiman Raissouni: courage in the face of persecution
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that, with no warning, the Moroccan authorities transferred jailed journalist Souleiman Raissouni to a prison far from where his family lives, tore up his books and documents in the process, and placed him in isolation in the new prison. They have yet again violated a detained journalist’s rights, RSF says.
Raissouni’s wife, who lives in Casablanca, was stunned to learn on 25 May that, two days before, he was suddenly taken from the city’s Oukacha prison – where he has been held since shortly after his arrest two years ago, in May 2020 – to Ain Borja prison.
Moroccan law permits transfers of prisoners whose conviction has been upheld on appeal, which is Raissouni’s case, but says proximity with the family should be maintained. And Raissouni’s rights were violated by the circumstances of his transfer and the actions accompanying it – to his family’s dismay.
Without warning anyone, the authorities suddenly transferred Raissouni on 23 May, immediately after he was visited by his family, who left Oukacha prison reassured by the visit. And then the authorities let two days go by before notifying his wife of the transfer.
During the transfer, the prison guards seized many of Raissouni’s documents such as his notes for his novel and tore up many of his notes and books. While the journalist’s physical health is very poor as a result of the hunger strikes he staged from April to August 2021, the authorities have dealt a new blow to his morale by placing him in isolation, without any justification, on arrival in the new prison.
RSF condemns these latest violations of the rights of a detained journalist. Under Moroccan law, detainees are supposed to be guaranteed the right to imprisonment near their family, a limitation of solitary confinement to cases that justify it, and the right to keep documents with them in prison.
“I call on the Moroccan authorities to come to their senses,” said Khaled Drareni, RSF’s North Africa representative. “They must stop persecuting Souleiman Raissouni who, like Omar Radi, is in prison for having done his job as a journalist in a completely independent manner.”
The Moroccan journalist Souleiman Raissouni was sentenced to five years in prison by a Casablanca court in July 2021 at end of a trial marked by many flagrant irregularities. His conviction – on a clearly spurious sexual assault charge he has always denied – was upheld on appeal in February. Assisted by RSF and other human rights organisations, he is awaiting the outcome of his appeal to Morocco’s court of cassation.