6 September 2007


"Your Majesty, one is free to comment": Casablanca news conference on lack of progress in press freedom since Mohammed became king

Incident details


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(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 5 September 2007 RSF press release:

"Your Majesty, one is free to comment": Casablanca news conference on lack of progress in press freedom since Mohammed became king

On 5 September 2007, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard held a news conference in Casablanca about the decline in press freedom in the run-up to the 7 September legislative elections, releasing the text of a letter he wrote to King Mohammed in the week of 27 August.

Ménard condemned the lack of progress in press freedom since Mohammed succeeded his father as king. "When we met the Moroccan authorities a year ago, they showed an unprecedented interest in establishing a dialogue but today we have the impression that we were conned," Ménard said. "Above all, we deplore the cynicism of a government that talks of reform and yet imprisons and censors journalists."

Reporters Without Borders urged those who are elected to the national assembly not to approve the proposed reform of the press law. "In its current form, this bill is reactionary and repressive," Ménard said. "We call on the new legislators to embrace this issue and to convey our message to the highest authorities."

"Those elected to office need an insolent and disrespectful press," Ménard added. "Freedom of expression is essential for the kingdom to be democratised."

Reporters Without Borders was denied access to Oukacha prison where "Al Watan Al An" reporter Mustapha Hurmatallah is serving an eight-month jail term he received on 15 August for "receiving items documents by criminal means." (See IFEX alerts of 15 August, 24 and 18 July 2007). The grounds given by the justice minister for forbidding the visit - the fact that his sentence had not yet been upheld on appeal - have no legal basis under Moroccan law.

( . . . )

The letter to King Mohammed is accessible at ttp://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23554


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