Morocco’s public authorities flatly reject HRW’s ‘biased’ report

Authorities say HRW’s press release on journalist Omar Radi’s prosecution for rape and espionage seeks to mislead public opinion by giving the impression that Morocco’s judicial system is not independent.

LONDON - Morocco’s public authorities “flatly” rejected Wednesday the “biased” publication of Human Rights Watch (HRW) of press release criticising Morocco for prosecuting journalist Omar Radi.

Radi is facing three legal allegations against him, including espionage and rape, which are not related to his profession.

HRW published on September 21 a press release titled “Morocco: Espionage case against outspoken journalist”, accusing Moroccan authorities of abusing the justice system to silence Radi.

The authorities said in a statement that HRW’s report sought to mislead public opinion by giving the impression that the national judicial system was not independent.

“The judiciary is independent under the Constitution and the implementation of guarantees of the independence of magistrates falls under the prerogatives of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, a special constitutional institution, independent of the executive and legislative powers,” said the authorities.

The Superior Council of the Judiciary published on September 15 a press release defending the independence and inviolability of the judiciary, in response to some international NGOs which were calling for pressure to undermine it, said the same source.

The authorities insisted that Moroccan justice was solely responsible for the case of the person in question, prosecuted for his alleged involvement in committing acts criminalized by the Moroccan penal code.

“These are acts subject to legal and legal measures and procedures that meet the conditions for a fair trial,” said the source.

“This legal action is in no way linked to the exercise by the person concerned of his function as a journalist. Only the Moroccan Press and Publishing Code is entitled to govern the latter's articles and investigations, knowing that the capacity of journalist does not exempt the person from legal proceedings, if the charges brought against the defendant constitute material and moral legal elements of a crime which falls under the public law,” it added.

Public authorities categorically rejected HRW's repeated attempts to take on roles unrelated to the defence of human rights, as in its latest publication which attempted to cast doubt on judgments, to exploit, in bad faith, the confidentiality of judicial investigations, and to influence the normal course of a judicial case which is at its very beginning.

“HRW tried to present an image contrary to the case's ins and outs and misinterpreted legal and judicial texts and procedures without providing tangible legal or material evidence on the non-veracity of the criminal acts stated in the said case, an action that only the judiciary are entitled to take in all legal systems,” they said.

“The false conclusions and pre-judgments contained in the publication can only reflect methodological bases which are devoid of objectivity and marred with selectivity, an approach which is specific to the organization in dealing with the human rights situation in Morocco,” they added.

The authorities said they were surprised by HRW's denial of the right to freedom of expression and opinion to some national media outlets over the only reason of publishing articles which are not necessarily in harmony with its conclusions and the directives of its supporting parties.

“HRW adopted single-party versions as is the case concerning the suspected rape and indecent assault, since it violated the right of the person concerned to judicial protection. Worse still, it has deliberately denied her professional capacity, a fact also noted by the National Union of the Moroccan Press in its press release of September 24, 2020,” concluded the source.