Morocco: Journalist jailed for one year over unlawful abortion in devastating blow for women’s rights

 Responding to the news that Hajar Raissouni, journalist for the independent daily newspaper Akhbar al-Youm, has been sentenced to one year in prison after being convicted of having an abortion, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for MENA Heba Morayef said:

“Today’s verdict is a devastating blow for women’s rights in Morocco. Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé and the medical staff involved in the case should never have been arrested in the first place. Instead of arresting them, publicly slandering Hajar Raissouni, invading her privacy and convicting her on unjust charges, Morocco’s authorities should revoke her conviction and order her immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all others involved in this case.

“Under international law women have a right to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives. Criminalizing abortion is a form of discrimination against women. Morocco’s authorities must urgently repeal all laws that violate women’s rights including laws that criminalize sex outside marriage and abortion.”

Hajar Raissouni, was arrested on 31 August along with her fiancé Amin Rifaat, as they left a doctor’s office in Rabat. The doctor and two others working at the clinic were also arrested on suspicion of carrying out an abortion

Hajar Raissouni and Amin Rifaat were both sentenced to one year in prison. The doctor involved in the case was sentenced to two years in prison and banned from practising for two years. There were two other members of medical staff convicted, one received a prison sentence of one year and the other a prison sentence of eight months. 

On September 4, in a letter sent by Hajar to her newspaper, she described how while in custody, she was interrogated about her political writings, one of her colleagues at Akhbar al-Yaoum and family including her uncle Ahmed Raissouni, a prominent theologist and the ex-president of the Mouvement de l’Unicité et de la Réforme (MUR),  one of the largest Islamic movements in Morocco.  

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