Amnesty International urges Morocco to overturn the conviction of Nawal Benaissa

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Female Hirak figure Nawal Benaissa./Ph. DR

In a note published on Wednesday, 17th of October, London-based non-governmental organization Amnesty International urged the Moroccan authorities to «overturn the conviction of Nawal Benaissa», a female figure of the Hirak movement in Al Hoceima.

The NGO indicates that Benaissa was «intimidated and harassed» for being part of the unrest which started in Ocober 2016, following the death of fishmonger Mohcine Fikri.

Nawal Benaissa was prosecuted for calling Al Hoceima's inhabitants to join a Hirak protest and criticizing security authorities in Facebook posts published on August and June 2017.

«Nawal Benaissa’s conviction is a clear attempt to intimidate her into silence and criminalize her activism and role in the Hirak movement. The authorities must overturn her conviction and sentence and drop all charges against her immediately», said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, one day before her appeal hearing.

Amnesty International, who spoke to Benaissa, recalls that she was arrested four times in 2017 and was told by the authorities to deactivate her Facebook account.

She was also convicted of «protesting in an undeclared demonstration, insulting law enforcement officers and incitement to commit criminal offences» and sentenced to 10 months in prison.

For the record, in June, the criminal chamber of the Casablanca Court of Appeals sentenced 53 Hirak detainees to prison terms ranging from one to 20 years.

While Hirak figure Nasser Zefzafi, Nabil Ahmjik, Ouassim Boustati and Samir Ighir received a 20-year sentence each for «undermining national security», six other detainees were convicted for «faking the fact that they were journalists».

The list includes Mohamed Al Asrihi, El Idrissi Houssein, Rabii Ablak, and Abdelali Houd who were sentenced to five years in prison and fined 2,000 dirhams.

Journalist Jawad Al Sabiry received a two-year sentence and 2,000 dirhams fine, while his colleague Foued Essaidi was sentenced to three years in prison.

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