Department of WTF

Just when Morocco is liberalizing its press and making democratic reforms there comes a bit of sobering news that makes you wonder whether the clock isn’t turning back. Ali Lamrabet, the editor of Demain Magazine, who’s had previous entanglements with the law in Morocco has now been banned from working as a journalist for 10 years. Although the lawsuit was brought by an association of civilians, it’s pretty clear that his real crime was voicing an opinion about territorial disputes in the Sahara that ran contrary to the standard. The Reuters dispatch has a couple of worthwhile quotes.

“This is a major blunder by our judiciary system. The judge did not even let us plead our client’s case,” said Abderrahim Jamai, Lmrabet’s lawyer and a prominent human rights activist.

A Communication Ministry spokeswoman said she could not comment because the justice system was independent. But Morocco’s national union of journalists criticised the use of the criminal law in this particular case.

“It is the first time in the history of the Moroccan press that a journalist has been given such a heavy sentence in a defamation case,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. “This ruling…is a serious blot on freedom of opinion and the press in Morocco.”

An absolute outrage. I suspect that another pardon may be in the works, especially if the pressure continues to mount, but it pisses me off when the courts don’t do their job.

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