Geneva Council strongly condemns the recent decision by Morocco’s top court to reject the final appeals of journalists Omar Radi and Soulaimane Raissouni. The court’s ruling, which confirms the prison sentences of these two journalists, raises serious concerns about the state of media freedom and the judiciary’s independence in Morocco.
Omar Radi, a dedicated investigative journalist known for his work on exposing official corruption, and Soulaimane Raissouni, an editorialist critical of the authorities, have both been behind bars since 2021, vehemently denying the sexual assault charges brought against them. Their trials have been marked by allegations of procedural flaws and concerns of political interference, casting doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the proceedings.
Geneva Council shares the grave apprehensions expressed by Human Rights Watch regarding the use of criminal trials, especially in cases of alleged sexual offenses, as “techniques of repression” to silence journalists and government critics. Journalists play a vital role in upholding democracy and informing the public, and they should not be subjected to unjust persecution and incarceration for carrying out their essential duties.
Moroccan authorities claim that the charges brought against Radi and Raissouni are unrelated to their profession or free speech, but the circumstances surrounding their arrests and trials raise doubts about the true motivations behind the proceedings.
In addition to Radi and Raissouni, Geneva Council also expresses deep concern over the conviction and one-year jail term of journalist Imad Stitou, who had been a defense witness in Radi’s trial. Stitou’s subsequent charges of “failure to assist a person in danger” after supporting his colleague’s testimony raise serious questions about the targeting of journalists who advocate for justice and truth.
The deteriorating state of press freedom in Morocco is further highlighted by the country’s decline in the World Press Freedom Index, where it now ranks 144th out of 180 countries, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Such a decline sends a distressing signal about the country’s commitment to upholding the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Geneva Council calls upon the Moroccan authorities to uphold the principles of justice and ensure fair and transparent trials for journalists and media workers. We urge the government to take immediate steps to address the concerns raised by the international community regarding the treatment of journalists and to respect their right to report without fear of reprisal.
We stand in solidarity with the families of Omar Radi, Soulaimane Raissouni, and Imad Stitou, and with journalists across Morocco who continue to strive for truth and uphold the values of press freedom. The international community must unite in condemning any attempt to silence journalists and suppress the free flow of information.