Morocco: Hirak protester jailed over Facebook posts must be released

Responding to the news that a Moroccan court has upheld a five-year prison sentence against El Mortada Iamrachen, a local imam and Hirak protester from the northern Rif region of Morocco, for peacefully expressing his views in two Facebook posts, Amnesty International’s MENA Regional Director Heba Morayef said:

“Today’s verdict is another appalling blow for freedom of expression in Morocco and a blatant miscarriage of justice.

“With this prison sentence El Mortada Iamrachen is being cruelly punished merely for expressing his opinions on Facebook. He has already been held in solitary confinement for 11 months in violation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment., The fact that he will be imprisoned for years for peacefully expressing his views is abhorrent.

"El Mortada Iamrachen appears to have been targeted because of his role as an advocate of peaceful protests. His conviction is the latest example of the Moroccan authorities’ stepping up their crackdown on dissent by prosecuting and intimidating protesters from the Hirak movement.

Instead of jailing El Mortada Iamrachen in inhuman conditions, Morocco’s authorities must release him and ensure that his conviction on these bogus charges is quashed
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director

“Instead of jailing El Mortada Iamrachen in inhuman conditions, Morocco’s authorities must release him and ensure that his conviction on these bogus charges is quashed.”

Background

Since May 2017, Moroccan security forces have arrested hundreds of protesters, including children and several journalists, over the largely peaceful protests in the northern Rif region of Morocco. Those arrested include scores of protesters, activists and bloggers in the Rif, who have protested to demand social justice and an end to marginalization of their communities.