Morocco’s new press law undermined by draft penal code : CPJ
Rabat, Morocco ( DIPLOMAT.SO) – In the small, polished Moroccan capital of Rabat, pictures of King Mohamed VI, who took the throne in 1999, hang in many shops, offices, and hotels. In most of these, he is clean-shaven, smiling, and wearing a suit: a modern monarch. His image is part of the official narrative of the country as a place of moderation and progress.
However, the monarchy, along with territorial integrity and Islam, has traditionally been a “red line” for Moroccan journalists. The three taboos are a mirror image of the nation’s official motto: “Allah, al Malik, al Watan” (God, the king, the nation). Moroccan courts have punished journalists with jail terms, fines, and the suspension of publications for saying the wrong thing on these subjects, according to CPJ research.
A new press code drafted by the Ministry of Communications, which the government says makes great strides for freedom of the press, was adopted by Parliament this week. Minister of Communications Mustafa al-Khalfi has called the new law an “essential step in the path of reforms that our country is undertaking to establish a democratic path and establish a country of rules and laws.” However, without amendments to the draft penal code currently before parliament, press freedom is unlikely to improve.
There has been opposition to the new press law by journalists, as well as the press syndicate and the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Publishers, both because of its content and because of the process by which it was created.