Watchdog slams Morocco over reporting restrictions in W Sahara

2016-11-05 16:58
Reporters without Borders

Reporters without Borders

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Rabat - Reporters Without Borders on Friday called on Morocco to "end all reporting restrictions in Western Sahara" and allow journalists to report freely from the disputed territory.

Rabat should "stop violating the rights of Sahrawi and foreign journalists to cover developments in Western Sahara", RSF said in a statement.

"By detaining reporters during demonstrations, putting Sahrawi citizen journalists on trial and deporting foreign journalists, the Moroccan authorities make life impossible for media personnel and maintain an arbitrary control over reporting in this territory," the media watchdog said.

Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa desk, said: "It is urgent and necessary that journalists should be free to report what is happening in this extremely tense territory and, in particular, to shed light on human rights violations."

RSF said two citizen journalists who report for the Sahrawi website Equipe Media Sahara were arrested in late September and charged with "attacking [a] public official", a charge punishable with up to one year in jail.

The journalists, who are to be tried on January 15, said they thought they were arrested because they were accompanying Spanish activists investigating the humanitarian situation in Western Sahara, it said.

Morocco is ranked 131st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Rabat maintains that the Western Sahara is an integral part of Morocco, despite UN resolutions calling for a referendum on self-determination.

A 1991 ceasefire brokered by the United Nations ended 16 years of conflict between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front campaigning for the territory's independence.

The truce left Morocco in control of all of the territory's main towns and the Polisario confined to a narrow strip of the desert interior.

Read more on:    reporters without borders  |  morocco  |  western sahara  |  north africa

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