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Morocco/Western Sahara
23.11.20
Urgent Interventions

Joint statement calling for the end of the intimidation and harassment campaign against human rights defender Maati Monjib

JOINT STATEMENT


The undersigned civilsociety organizations call on the Moroccan authorities to immediately end theirintimidation and harassment campaign against academic and human rights defenderMaati Monjib and drop all baseless charges leveled against him.


In October 2015, Monjib,along with six of his colleagues, received their first summons related tounsubstantiated charges of “endangering state security” after they receivedfunding from a Dutch non-governmental organization to develop training for citizenjournalists. The trial has been postponed 20 times since then, most recently atthe beginning of October. At the same time, several newspapers and online mediatermed “slander media” in Morocco by a collective of 110 Moroccan journalistshave regularly smeared Monjib and accused him of, among other things, moneylaundering, embezzlement, and being a traitor to the state.


On October 7 of thisyear, the authorities separated Monjib’s case from that of the other sixdefendants and brought forward new charges of embezzlement and money launderingagainst him, where he could face up to five years in prison. Since then, theMoroccan security services have summoned Monjib and four of his sistersnumerous times for hours-long interrogations, as well as maintained heightenedsurveillance outside all of their respective homes. The smear campaign has alsoincreased after Monjib exercised his right to freedom of expression byproviding comments critical of the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance,Morocco’s main intelligence agency, to RFI Radio.


During the last fiveyears, the Moroccan government has regularly targeted Monjib because of hishuman rights work. In 2015, he was placed on a travel ban—that was only liftedafter Monjib went on a hunger strike for 24 days—and prohibited from teachingat University Mohammed V. Meanwhile, in October 2019, Amnesty International ​documented​ that Monjib’s phone had been targeted since at least October 2017using spyware created by the Israel-based technology firm NSO Group (the samecontroversial software used to target associates of ​Jamal Khashoggi​ and Omar Radi​). Concerningly—and likely as a result of theharassment campaign—Monjib has been the victim of several verbal assaults byunidentified individuals while he merely walks the streets of Rabat.


Moroccan authoritieshave long focused their attention on Monjib due to his academic work andactivism, which has often been critical of the Moroccan government’s corruptionand human rights abuses. He is a founding member of the Moroccan Associationfor Investigative Journalism and the president of the nongovernmentalorganization Freedom Now that defends freedom of expression and journalism inMorocco. He has long been a strong advocate for press freedom, regularlyorganizing capacity-building workshops for independent journalists, includingto teach them how to use StoryMaker, an open source app to help journalistsproduce professional multimedia reporting with a mobile phone. Monjib also drewthe ire of the authorities for his participation in the February 20th movementthat called for democratic reforms in 2011.


The ongoing harassmentof Monjib is yet another example of the deterioration of the human rightssituation in Morocco. Just in the past year, the Moroccan authorities haveharassed and/or arrested independent journalists Omar Radi, Hajar Raissouni,Imad Stitou, and Soulaimane Raissouni, as well as ​musical artistsand social media influencers​, simply for peacefully ​criticizing​ the king or other authorities. Unsurprisingly, the ​Committee to ProtectJournalists​ and ​Reporters without Borders​ have documented the kingdom’s concerning degradation in press freedom.Monjib’s case has also been featured in PEN America’s ​2019 Freedom toWrite Index​ and ​Writers at Risk Database,​ which catalogue​ the global persecution of public intellectuals andwriters including the increased pressure seen in Morocco.


The undersignedorganizations call on the international community, including the U.S.Department of State, members of the U.S. Congress, members of the EuropeanParliament and the European External Action Service to:


Call on Moroccanauthorities to drop any spurious charges against Maati Monjib, and immediatelyend the unlawful surveillance, intimidation, and harassment against him and hisfamily; and

Strongly denounce the useof NSO spyware to target journalists, bloggers, artists, and civil societyactivists in Morocco.


Sincerely,


· Amnesty International

· Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

· CIVICUS

· Committee to Protect Journalists

· Human Rights Watch

· MENA Rights Group

· PEN America

. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

· The Freedom Initiative

· FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory forthe Protection of Human Rights Defenders

· OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), withinthe framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

· Reporters Without Borders

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