Following 2016-2017 protests that took place in the northern region of Rif, there has been a steady increase in attacks against journalists and restrictions to freedom of expression in Morocco in recent years.
Ahead of the country’s upcoming fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle set to take place in November 2022, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have submitted an alternative civil society report documenting the deterioration of press freedom in Morocco as a result of both law and practice. The joint submission details, among other things:
- A significant rise in the imprisonment, arrest, arbitrary detention, and prosecution of journalists by Moroccan authorities on vague charges, including, but not limited to, the instrumentalization of trumped-up sex-related charges;
- Efforts to censor and prevent the reporting of certain media content, including the imposition of bureaucratic and administrative obstacles on independent news outlets; and
- The expulsion of foreign journalists outside of the country to censor their outlets’ coverage of political events in Morocco.
The UPR is a mechanism of the UN created to examine the human rights record of all UN member states. Per the UPR process, the country under review submits a national report and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights puts together one report compiling information on the country obtained from reports by the UN special procedures and treaty bodies, as well as another report informed by submissions from stakeholders, including civil society. In this vein, TIMEP and CPJ’s alternative report has been submitted ahead of Morocco’s fourth UPR cycle, with review set to take place in November 2022.
Morocco underwent its first UPR cycle in April 2008, its second in May 2012, and its third in May 2017.