Responding to the news that journalist Hajar Raissouni, sentenced to one year in prison over an “unlawful” abortion, was released last night, after she, her fiancé and the three members of medical staff involved in the case received a royal pardon, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:
“Hajar Raissouni’s release comes as a huge relief and is undoubtedly a cause for celebration for her and her family. But the fact remains that she and the four others involved in this case should never have been detained or convicted in the first place.
“A royal pardon does not erase the grave injustice they have suffered. Their convictions should be quashed and their records cleared.
“Hajar Raissouni’s case shows just how much work is still needed to protect women’s rights in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities must urgently decriminalise abortion and repeal all other laws that discriminate against women.”
Hajar Raissouni, a journalist for the independent Moroccan newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum, was arrested on 31 August 2019, along with her fiancé Amin Rifaat, as they left a doctor’s office in Rabat. The doctor and two other members of medical staff were also arrested on suspicion of carrying out an abortion. On 30 September, Hajar Raissouni and Amin Rifaat were sentenced to one year in prison, and the doctor involved in the case received a two-year prison term. The two other members of medical staff received suspended prison sentences, one for one year and the other for eight months. All have been granted a royal pardon.
While in custody Hajar Raissouni wrote a letter describing how she was interrogated about her political writings, one of her media colleagues and her uncle Ahmed Raissouni, a prominent theologist and former president of the Mouvement de l’Unicité et de la Réforme (MUR), one of the largest Islamic movements in Morocco.