EP Resolution on Journalists in Morocco, Interference in Ongoing Judicial Process, Contradiction with Human Rights – Official –  

The European Parliament (EP), through the draft resolution on “the situation of journalists in Morocco, in particular the case of Omar Radi”, refers to “a case still in trial before an independent judiciary of a partner country and thereby interferes in an ongoing judicial process, which is in contradiction with the fundamental principles of human rights,” said chairman of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, Lahcen Haddad. In a letter addressed to MEPs, on behalf of the Moroccan members of this Committee, Haddad recalled that “several parties have sought to have people believe, in the name of human rights, that this person (Omar Radi) has been unjustly and arbitrarily imprisoned for his opinions, when in reality he is a detainee by virtue of common law as he is accused of rape”. Noting that Morocco has “since 2016 purged the press code (the law on the rights of journalists) of prison sentences for journalists”, Haddad said that the conditions of fair trial were upheld, that the arrest procedures were in accordance with the law and of criminal procedure provisions, and that the defense requests were granted by the Judges. Similarly, he added, a reasonable time was observed before the trial was held, adding that the accused was informed of the charges brought against him; he had access to a lawyer of his own choice and was able to have the time necessary for the preparation of his defense. “As with any other trial case noted by human rights NGOs, the conditions for a fair trial and judgment were present,” he pointed out, noting that the reform of the Moroccan justice initiated a few years ago guarantees free and fair access to justice for everyone. In this letter, Haddad, moreover, said that the complainant who is herself a journalist was also heard by the General Prosecutor after filing her complaint. “Aware of what this case of sexual violence represents, like similar ones that preceded it, for litigants, the court decision was rendered on the sole basis of the impartial application of the law,” he explained.  Haddad also “strongly condemn the campaign of defamation, fake news, harassment and denigration, relentless and unprecedented in its scale, to which the complainant was subject; we call out the slander, attacks and repeated threats, detrimental to her dignity and jeopardizing her safety, health and well-being”. He noted that “no person can be subject, as underlined by the Preamble of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Morocco and article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil Rights, to discrimination or persecution because of their sex, identity, social origin, opinion for the sole purpose of intimidation or to force them to silence”. “The profession, the notoriety, the relations, and the opinions of the persons concerned, can never constitute, on their own, elements for or against crimesand/or offences; as they can in no way impact in any way the principle of equality of citizens before the law as guaranteed by article 6 of the Moroccan Constitution,” said Haddad, who invited his European colleagues as well as other stakeholders to work with their colleagues in Morocco and elsewhere to ensure that the international provisions inthis area prevail, knowing that the case of Omar Radi is still in trial before a higher court. “We reiterate our recommendation that all stakeholders adhere to the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in national and international law, and to act in accordance with the law, international standards, the rules of ethics and the need for a strong and independent justice,” he stressed. Haddad also indicated that the Moroccan MPs consider it urgent to ensure that women victims of sexual rape and violence are protected and their safety, dignity and access to counsel are guaranteed, no matter. “We are deeply concerned that violence against women runs counter to the achievement of equality, development, and peace, as already indicated in the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in which a series of measures was recommended aimed at combating violence against women and any form of obstacle to the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women,” he warned, recognizing that violence against women reflects historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have resulted in male domination and discrimination on the one hand, and the hindrance of the advancement of women. “we strongly defend the right of the victim (herself a journalist) of this alleged act of rape perpetrated by a journalist to have recourse to justice,” he underlined, adding that “the right to a fair trial must not be guaranteed to a male journalist and denied to a female journalist”. Haddad added that the Moroccan MPs, members of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, ask all MEPs to be extremely vigilant in the face of this case which is still in trial at an Appeals Court and to vote against this resolution which promotes a male journalist accused of rape at the expense of a woman journalist claiming that the former had raped her. “we would have liked our MEP colleagues to investigate real and proven cases of human rights violations in other countries of the European neighborhood instead of focusing on Morocco, a country that has made very notable advances in the field of human rights as confirmed by the UN Human Rights Council, the American State Department, the European human rights bodies and various other organizations,” he stressed in this letter. In this regard, he said that Algeria is shirking its human rights obligations and commitments and persists in serious human rights violations and the continued repression of Hirak activists, journalists and voices that criticize the regime, noting that all these cases of clear violation of human rights in Algeria have been reported by the European and world media. “MEPs keep a mysterious silence over this catastrophic situation of human rights abuse in Algeria. What is this if not a blatant example of double standards?,” he lamented “Finally, we affirm that the protection and promotion of human rights are constant and irreversible choices for Morocco, a country that will always defend its adherence to the UN mechanisms for human rights, and women’s rights, in particular,” Haddad concluded.