Taoufik Bouachrine, a journalist from Morocco who has been detained since 2018, is facing a worsening of his health. The Moroccan authorities are impeding his ability to receive crucial medical care, which contradicts both local laws and international accords.
Journalist Tawfiq Bouachrine, who is currently serving a 15-year prison term in Salé city's Al-Arjat 2 prison, has reportedly been complaining of severe shoulder pain for the past three years, according to his family. The prison doctor has advised sending him to a hospital for treatment, according to the man's family.
The Bouachrine family has revealed that the prison authorities are demanding that Tawfiq don a criminal uniform and undergo medical examinations while being shackled with iron handcuffs, a request he has adamantly declined for the third time. Tawfiq views this demand as a violation of his human worth and a personal affront to his dignity.
Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) believes that the Moroccan government is responsible for Taoufik Bouachrine's health and that it is unacceptable for the Moroccan government to prevent him from leaving the country for medical treatment. This is because it constitutes torture and other cruel treatment.
In a stunning raid, Taoufik Bouachrine was arrested by a troop of 40 police officers who stormed the Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper's headquarters on February 23, 2018. Subsequently, the Casablanca Court of Appeal sentenced him to 15 years in prison, up from the 12-year sentence initially handed down by a lower court in 2018. Found guilty of rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault, Bouachrine was also ordered to pay millions of Moroccan dirhams (equivalent to $265,000) in compensation to the complainants. However, his lawyer has vehemently contested the charges, arguing that the evidence was forged and that the trial was politically motivated, marred by numerous violations that demonstrate the absence of a fair trial in accordance with international standards.
It is worth noting that Bouachrine, who was the editor-in-chief of the Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper, was renowned for his hard-hitting editorials that exposed government corruption and criticized the dismal state of rights and freedoms in Morocco. His newspaper was subsequently suspended, and he was accused of committing heinous crimes in an apparent attempt to discredit his reputation and alienate him from the Moroccan public.
Women Journalists Without Chains has called upon global organizations dedicated to safeguarding the freedom of expression to intensify their efforts in pressuring Moroccan authorities to release Taoufik Bouachrine and other journalists who are being held in detention, drop all legal charges against them, and ensure the preservation of free speech in the country.
The organization has outlined several key demands that they believe are necessary to safeguard the freedom of the press and ensure that journalists can work without fear of persecution in Morocco, as follows:
- Immediate release of Taoufik Bouachrine and provision of necessary medical care in accordance with Moroccan law and international humanitarian conventions.
- Release of all detained journalists and an end to unfounded accusations against independent journalists who present facts to the public.
- Review of the Press and Publication Code and its amendments to ensure journalists can practice their work without fear of criminal prosecution, as prosecuting journalists under criminal law undermines Morocco's reputation and threatens access to information.
- Cessation of campaigns of defamation and systematic abuse led by media outlets loyal to the Moroccan authorities against detained journalists, including Taoufik Bouachrine, Omar Al-Radi, and Suleiman Al-Raysouni, and their immediate release.
- These actions are essential to protect press freedom and uphold the rights of journalists in Morocco, which are fundamental to any democratic society.
Women Journalists Without Chains
May 14, 2023