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REGIONS:

REVISED PRESS CODE STILL TOO HARSH, SAYS RSF

Journalists in Morocco can still be thrown in jail for up to five years if they commit press offences and foreign publications can still be banned, despite changes to a Press Code currently being considered by Parliament, says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Under the amended Press Code, adopted by the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Defence on 8 February but subject to final approval by Parliament, sentences for those convicted of defaming members of the royal family have been reduced from a maximum of 20 years to a maximum of five years.

Calling the bill "disappointing," RSF notes that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Abid Hussain has stated that press offences should not be punishable by prison sentences, "except for … racist or discriminatory comments or calls for violence." RSF says the amended press code, if passed, maintains the government's right to ban local and foreign publications. Under Article 29 of the code, bans are warranted "if the publications are prejudicial to Islam, the monarchy, territorial integrity or public order." [See IFEX "Communiqué" #10-36, #9-49]. ">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?system_id=3561">#10-36, #9-49].

For more information, see www.rsf.org.


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