Foreign Affairs
Moroccan journalist jailed on charges of an abortion that never happened

A Moroccan journalist was sentenced to one year imprisonment on charges of having had pre-marital sexual relations and having an abortion. Human rights activists have called this a move to crackdown on journalists who are critical of the government.

Hajar Raissouni was arrested with her boyfriend after leaving the gynaecologist’s clinic in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, in August. The 28 year old journalist denied the charges saying she had gone to the gynaecologist for treatment on account of internal bleeding.

Raissouni works with an independent newspaper which is critical of the country’s authorities. A colleague in the Al-Akhbar Yaoum news room described the case against Raissouni as a “political trial” and said that the police had interviewed her about her family and her writings.

In Court, Raissouni’s fiancee, who is from Sudan, denied having an abortion. Her lawyer, Abdelmoula El Marouri said that he was shocked with the verdict because all medical and legal evidence pointed at an acquittal and that Raissouni should have been released from the charges. He said he would be appealing the judgment.

The prosecutor in the case said that the circumstances of the journalist’s arrest had nothing to do with her work and the clinic she visited was under police surveillance on suspicion of illegal abortions being carried out.

The Court also sentenced Raissouni’s fiancee to a one year jail term and the gynaecologist to two years. The doctor’s assistant and nurses at the clinic were also found guilty but were given suspended sentences.

The regional director of Human Rights Ahmed Benchemsi described the verdict as a “black day for freedom in Morocco.” and called the verdict a “blatant injustice, an immoral violation of human rights and an attack on individual freedoms.”