Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2013

Moroccan Editor facing Jail

0 11 Moroccan Editor facing Jail

By Mourad Anouar

Morocco News Tribune


Oklahoma City, U.S.A — Moroccan journalist and human rights advocate Youssef Jajili, who appeared before a court in the Casablanca suburb of Aïn Sebaâ on 28 January, is facing charges of criminal defamation in response to reports he ran in his weekly Alaan Magazine, in which he exposed corruption within the Moroccan government. More reports on the same topic and examples of prime essays can be seen at our main page.

Investigative journalist Jajili is being sued by Abdelkader Amara, minister of manufacture and trade in the current Islamic government, for printing a copy of Amara’s hotel bill from an official visit he made to Burkina Faso. The billimages 5 Moroccan Editor facing Jail shows the minister spent around 8225 Moroccan DH (US$1,000) in taxpayer funds on a room service meal that included two bottles of champagne for the official.

Mr. Amara denied the accusation brought in Jajili’s report and accused him of fabricating the story.

“Any person directly or indirectly involved in this action, which attacks my honor and dignity, and the honor of my position, my family and my party,” said the Moroccan official in a statement posted on his Facebook page on 26 June 2012.

The 28 January trial session was postponed though for a month, and the judge gave the two parties time for “reconciliation.”

Jajili, who won Morocco’s prestigious National Press Award in 2011, expressed his concerns over the possibility of being harshly fined and sentenced to jail under the Moroccan Press Law, in which article 52 of the law states that journalists can face up to one year in jail and fines of up to 100,000 dirhams (US$11,955) if convicted on defamation charges.

Jajili was reported to have said “if reconciliation requires an apology on my part, it’s not going to happen – even if I have to go to prison”.

Jajili’s trial was, even before the due date, denounced by many human rights organizations and media rights agencies such Reporters Without Borders, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), The International Freedom of Expression Exchange network (IFEX) , The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Freedom House, considering his case an ‘intimidation tactic’ from the Moroccan authorities to silence the independent press.

“Authorities should drop the criminal defamation charges against an editor in Morocco who reported that a government official had ordered champagne to his hotel room while on a taxpayer-funded trip outside the country,” said The Committee to Protect Journalists on January 15.

“Reporters Without Borders calls for the withdrawal of criminal proceedings against Youssef Jajili, the editor of the magazine Al-Aan, for criticising a government minister’s behaviour while abroad, and deplores the fact that, after the minister complained, the police questioned him without referring to the judicial authorities,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement published in their website.

 The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) also denounced pressing the charges of defamation on the journalist and called for ” the dropping of the charges pressed on the journalist and calls the legislative authorities in Morocco to work on amending the articles that allow the imprisonment of the journalists and others in the publishing cases. In addition to setting clear principles to differentiate between the accusation of slander against the people and what is under the frame of revealing the truths related to the conduct of the public personalities and doesn’t include the bad intention”.

The charges against Youssef Jajili should be dismissed immediately….In addition, we urge the Moroccan government to repeal the current criminal defamation laws because they are designed to suppress dissent and criticism, and they have no place in a democracy,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the Freedom House.

According to many human rights groups and media rights agencies, Jajili’s case came to add to the already tarnished image of press freedom in Morocco, which is seen by  targeting journalists in Morocco as the government’s failure to live up to the promised political reforms and a deliberate tactic to silence independent journalists.

Reporters Without Border’s report, the Paris-based group, ranked Morocco 136 out of 179 countries on its 2013 Press Freedom Index that came out Wednesday.

Moroccan officials, on the hand, deny constantly reports of human rights abuse and curtailing media freedom issued by human rights groups and media monitoring agencies, considering them (reports) inaccurate.

Mr. Mustapha El Khalfi, minister of communication, criticized on Thursday the report of Reporters Without Borders onimages 2 Moroccan Editor facing Jail freedom of press in Morocco. “The report doesn’t reflect the efforts of Morocco to improve the condition of freedoms both at the legal and practical levels”, said Mr. El Khalfi.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, while World Economic Forum in Davos last month, dodged a request from the head of Human Rights Watch to put an end to the law that criminalizes defamation. Benkirane talked about the progress instead.

Youssef Jalili is a 29-year-old journalist often runs articles that expose current government “hypocrisy” in dealing with Morocco’s pressing issues.


  • Mali Bourb

    Defamation law? cover up for corruption… remove it