20th of July march : Reporters Without Borders criticizes attacks on press freedom

A demonstration in Al Hoceima on the 18th of May. / Ph. Therese Di Campo - AFP
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«Since the start of the Rif Hirak movement in October 2016, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has documented numerous violations of freedom of information.» Thus states a new press release published on Saturday, signed by the NGO and sent as an open letter to the Moroccan authorities and the international public opinion regarding the protest movement of the province of Al Hoceima.

In particular, RSF denounced «the attitude of the Moroccan authorities which deliberately hinder the work of national and foreign journalists covering the demonstrations taking place in the Rif». «The situation of Moroccan and foreign journalists covering the events in northern Morocco continues to deteriorate. In seeking to prevent media coverage of the Rif revolt, the Moroccan authorities gradually make this area a no-go zone for independent information», said Yasmine Kacha, director of the North Africa office of RSF on Saturday.

«Reporters Without Borders also calls on the Moroccan authorities to release all arrested journalists and condemn all physical attacks on press professionals who only carry their duty by covering these events.»

RSF cited the case of Hamid Mahdaoui, director of the news website arrested on Thursday in Al Hoceima, but also other journalists and citizen-journalists arrested by the authorities, as well as several international press correspondents, who became «personae non gratae» in the Rif.

«According to Agence France Presse (AFP) and many eyewitnesses, the internet connection was also slowed down, sometimes interrupted, and the telephone network disrupted throughout the city, which complicated the work of on-site journalists.»

«As a reminder, Morocco, which is ranked 133rd in the RSF's 2017 World Ranking, continues to suffer from many problems with respect to press freedom», the NGO statement concluded.

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