One Year in Prison for Editor Critical of Government
PEN International protests the one-year prison sentence and fine handed to Almasae editor Rachid Nini on June 9, 2011, apparently in retaliation for his articles criticizing government policies and official corruption. He has reportedly gone on hunger strike in protest of prison conditions. PEN believes that Nini has been jailed merely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Rachid Nini (40), editor of the daily newspaper Almasae, one of Morocco’s leading newspapers, and owner of Al-Massae Media Group, was sentenced to one year in prison and a 1,000 dirham (88 euro) fine on June 9, 2011. Detained since April 28, Nini was tried on charges of “undermining a judicial decision,” “attempting to influence a judicial decision,” and “reporting on untrue criminal offenses” under various articles of the penal code. He intends to appeal the verdict, which rights groups have denounced as politicized. Nini’s lawyer said: “This is a clear warning to journalists, so that they feel threatened when they exercise their freedom of expression.”
Nini’s arrest in April followed his publication of several articles criticizing the counter-terrorism practices of the Moroccan security services, including prison sentences handed down after unfair trials against Islamists. He is frequently critical of government policies in his articles and has written about widespread corruption among government officials. He has often called for the repeal of Morocco's anti-terrorism law and for increased political freedom.
The editor is being held in Okasha prison in Casablanca, where he reportedly began a hunger strike on June 13 in protest of prison conditions. He is demanding access to the mosque to pray, to paper and pen, and to be able to call his family. He has also complained of constant searches of his personal belongings by prison authorities.
According to Nini’s sister, Noura, the editor is the main breadwinner for his family, including six siblings, his mother and his 11-year-old daughter.
Nini’s prosecution comes despite promises of political and human rights reforms made by King Mohammed VI in March in response to demonstrations that began February 20 and were inspired by the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The king’s latest proposals for reforms, announced on June 17, have been rejected by protesters as not far-reaching enough.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the one-year prison sentence and fine handed to editor Rachid Nini on June 9, 2011, apparently in retaliation for his articles criticizing government policies and official corruption;
- Pointing out that Nini’s conviction is in violation of his right to freedom of expression protected under international human rights treaties to which Morocco is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;
- Calling for Nini’s immediate and unconditional release;
- Until his release, ensure the conditions of his detention conform to international standards including the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Send Your Letter To
Minister of Justice
His Excellency Mohamed Naciri
Ministry of Justice
Place Mamounia, Rabat
Fax: +212 537 734 725/ 537 730 772
Salutation: Your Excellency
Abbas El Fassi
Département du Premier Ministre
Fax: +212 5377 69995
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Excellency
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Morocco in your country if possible.
Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN If sending appeals after August 21, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org