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Human Rights Watch calls on Moroccan authorities to release detainees because of critical entries

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Human Rights Watch and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights issued a statement Wednesday calling on the Moroccan authorities to release detainees for expressing critical opinions in social media posts or rap songs.

The statement said that since September 2019, the Moroccan authorities have arrested and tried at least 10 activists, artists or other citizens “who have done nothing but peacefully express critical opinions via Facebook posts, YouTube videos, or rap songs.”

The two organizations called for their immediate release and the prosecution of them dropped.

The statement recorded the presence of 7 people as of Wednesday in prison against the background of these prosecutions, including two who were appealed to the courts of appeal. 3 others are awaiting trial in the event of a temporary release.

They were arrested in different cities, on the back of blogs or videos on social media, condemning “poverty” and “corruption” and including criticism of King Mohammed VI or insults and accusations.

They were charged with charges such as “breaching the duty to respect and respect the person of the king”, “insulting constitutional institutions” or “insulting public officials in the performance of their duties.”

Including the two Taliban, one of them (19 years) was sentenced to 4 years in prison before his sentence on appeal was reduced to 8 months. While the second (18 years) was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, of which he spent a few weeks, so that the judiciary decided to pursue him before the appeal in case of temporary release. His trial continues in March.

“The number of Moroccans who use social media to express bold political opinions, including about the king, is increasing, and this is at the heart of their right,” said Ahmed bin Shamsi, director of communication and advocacy at the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

These prosecutions drew criticism from human rights activists in Morocco, while the Moroccan authorities defended their legality, denying “any retreat in the human rights situation in Morocco,” according to local media reports earlier quoting a government spokesman, Hassan Abiaba.

The arrest of the journalist and human rights activist Omar Al-Radi, 33, late last year for his prosecution for “contempt of the judiciary” due to a tweet on Twitter, caused widespread criticism among various groups, before the judiciary decided to continue to pursue him after his release. His trial continues in March.

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