Cairo, 20th September 2008
Cairo—The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (anhri.net) announced today that the Moroccan Court of Appeals in Akadir has ruled in favor of blogger Mohamed Erraji. Erraji was charged with “disrespect of the King,” and previously sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 5,000 MD. This sentence, handed down by the Moroccan First Degree Court on September 8th, 2008, was revoked by the Court of Appeals on September 18th. The neutral ruling cited procedural issues as the basis for the decision to acquit Erraji. For rights activists, the ruling did not go far enough in affirming the right of Moroccan bloggers, journalists and activists to criticize the King or government officials.
“While we are pleased about Mohammed Erraji’s acquittal, we must keep in mind that a truly independent judiciary would not have convicted Erraji in the first place. Only an independent judicial system can ensure that bloggers, journalists and writers are protected from government aggression and able to exercise their right to free speech. What is happening in Morocco is happening every day all over the Arab world, so we must work to support independent judiciaries to ensure human rights across the region,” said Hamdi Al-Assiouti, Legal Consultant for the Legal Aid Unit for Freedom of Expression at ANHRI.
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