Reporters Without Borders denounces the relentless Moroccan persecution of Sahrawi journalists

  • Reporters without borders requires Morocco to allow the international press to enter Western Sahara
  • Urges the Moroccan Government to guarantee fair judicial processes for Sahrawi journalists and respect for their physical and psychological integrity
  • Exercising journalism in the Spanish ex-colony is an “act of heroism” and its protagonists pay with arbitrary detentions, harassment of their families, torture, unjust sentences and jail
  • Reporters WB asks Spain and France to break their usual “complicit silence” with Morocco

Alfonso Lafarga / Contramutis .- Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has denounced the persecution suffered by Sahrawi journalists by Morocco, which handles with “iron hand” the information in Western Sahara, punishes “relentlessly” the exercise of local journalism and blocks access of foreign media.

RWB requires Morocco to allow the international press to enter Western Sahara, with freedom of movement through the territory, and put an end to the expulsion of journalists, while urging the Moroccan Government to guarantee fair judicial processes for the Saharawi journalists imprisoned, with whom the demands of the UN regarding their release must be met.

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Trial against Nazha Khatari El-Khalidi postponed until June 24

PUSL, May 20, 2019 .- According to the information by Equipe Media the trial of the Saharawi activist and journalist of Equipe Media, Nazha Khatari El-Khalidi has been postponed until June 24.

The delay of the proceedings against El Khalidi was justified by the court with the need to further inspect the contents of Ms. El Khalidi’s mobile phone that was confiscated by the police early December of last year.

Ms. El Khalidi faces serious charges for recording a peaceful demonstration of Sahrawi citizens in the streets of El-Aaiún, capital of Western Sahara that is occupied by the Moroccan Kingdom since 1975.

In the context of the same judicial process, on May 19 the Moroccan occupation forces expelled seven international observers that intended to attend the trial. The five Spanish lawyers and two Norwegian members from RAFTO foundation who intended to observe the proceedings of the trial where expelled without any justification other than “that it is forbidden to enter Western Sahara” at the border control at the Airport of El Aaiun by the Moroccan authorities. Read more

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Morocco: Law Misused to Silence Reporters

Woman Who Filmed Police Faces 2 Years in Prison

(New York) HWR – Moroccan authorities are using a law designed to keep people from falsely claiming professional credentials to bring criminal charges against people trying to expose abuses, Human Rights Watch said today.

In the latest case, Nezha Khalidi, who is affiliated with the activist group Equipe Media in El-Ayoun, Western Sahara, will go on trial on May 20, 2019, accused of not meeting the requirements to call herself a journalist. Police arrested her on December 4, 2018, as she was livestreaming on Facebook a street scene in Western Sahara and denouncing Moroccan “repression.” She faces two years in prison if convicted.

“People who speak out peacefully should never have to fear prison for ‘pretending’ to be journalists,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities shouldn’t be using a law designed to keep an unqualified person from claiming to be a doctor, for example, to punish people whose commentary displeases them.” Read more

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World Press Freedom Day: “Being a journalist in occupied Western Sahara”

PUSL.- The United Nations, in one of its first general assemblies, affirmed that: “Freedom of information is a fundamental right and … the cornerstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated”.

In the occupied territories of Western Sahara this right, like many others, is not respected by Morocco, attacking, torturing and imprisoning the Sahrawis who, putting their own lives at risk, work so that the struggle for the freedom of their people does not fall into oblivion, denouncing the abuses to which they are subjected by the illegal occupier.

Morocco applies this information blockade not to Sahrawi journalists, but also the international media is banned from their work in the area and entry into the occupied territory is allowed for those who receive authorization from the Ministry of the Interior with the prior commitment to comply with the requirements demanded and desired by the regime. Read more

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Sahrawi journalist’s trial postponed

PUSL.- The trial of Nazha El Khalidi that should have taken place today was postponed to the 20th of May at request of her lawyer since she is in Europe participating in several conferences.

El Khalidi, a Sahrawi media activist, who collaborates with Equipe Media and RASD-TV, was detained for several hours on December 4th, 2018 as she was live-streaming a protest on social media.

According to Equipe Media she said that she was later beaten, arrested and her cell phone was confiscated.

The young media activist is now being charged of “claiming or usurping a title associated with a profession that is regulated by law without meeting the necessary conditions to use it”. Read more

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Ahmed Brahim Ettanji: “Our bet against Moroccan violence is to act peacefully” Gervasio Sánchez.- Ahmed Brahim Ettanji (1988) was born in El Aaiún and is president of Equipe Media, a medium that tries to break the Moroccan information blockade.

When and why was Equipe Media, the communication organization that you direct in Western Sahara, founded?

In 2009, ten years ago, with the aim of overcoming the information blockade imposed by the Moroccan authorities occupying our land. We are a group of activists, journalists and jurists.

Do you receive European or Spanish financial aid?

We have received cameras and computers as donations and financial aid from a Swedish organization to shoot a documentary entitled ‘Three Stolen Cameras’, which has won several awards at international festivals. There are Moroccan laws that criminalize foreign financing. Read more

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Salah Lebsir Political prisoner and Saharawi journalist transferred to Bouzakarn prison

PUSL.- The political activist and Saharawi media activist, Salah Eddine Lebsir, was transferred from Tata prison to the Bouzakarn prison last night.

Salah Eddine Lebsir was arrested on June 6, 2015, for his participation in peaceful demonstrations in the city of Smara, vindicating the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. He is a political activist and journalist known to the Moroccan authorities. Lebsir was sentenced to 4 years ending his sentence in June 2019.

During the time of incarceration, he has carried out several hunger strikes, demanding humane treatment and respect for his elementary rights.

The jornalist was now transferred from Tata prison that is 719Km from El Aaiun (capital of Western Sahara) to Bouzakarn which is 479km away. Read more

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Saharawi journalists sentenced to two years in prison

PUSL.- Mohamed Salem Mayara, reporter and Mohamed Alchomyai image reporter were sentenced to 2 years in prison last September 5, by the court of first instance of El Aaiun capital of the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

The two journalists belong to the “smara news” team, a Saharawi media, broadcasted on social networks to break the silence and media blackout imposed by the Kingdom of Morocco that occupies the territory of Western Sahara illegally through a military presence, with military and police forces that keep the Sahrawi population under a domain of terror, kidnapping, torture and a social, political and economic apartheid, disrespecting the United Nations resolutions.

The two journalists were documenting a peaceful demonstration when they were arrested on 27 March this year.

Victims of torture and ill-treatment they were forced to sign documents drawn up by the Moroccan authorities whose contents they did not know. Read more

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Morocco postpones trial of Saharawi journalist

The court of first instance in El Ayoun postponed to May 14 the trial of Laaroussi Ndour, arbitrarily detained on 2nd of May.

The photographer and editor of the Bentilli Center, one of several Sahrawi media groups in the occupied territories, who daily report and film the human rights violations in Western Sahara committed by Morocco was arrested and treated violently on Smara Avenue according to several witnesses.

This morning when he was present in court he did not have the hearing aid that he needs that had been removed by the Moroccan occupation authorities.

The trial had to be postponed since Ndour was hearing impaired.

Friends, activists and relatives went to court to show their support for the journalist and in protest of his arbitrary detention. Read more

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Morocco detains Saharawi journalist – World Press Freedom Day

The Moroccan occupation authorities detained Laaroussi Ndour, photographer and publisher of the Bentilli Center, one of several Sahrawi media groups who daily report and film human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara committed by Morocco.

The arrest of journalist Ndour is part of the systematic policy of silencing the Saharawi media, whose journalists are persecuted and victims of ill-treatment, torture and detention.

Laaroussi Ndour, 26, was arrested on the evening of March 2, 2018 on Smara Avenue in El Aaiun, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. According to witnesses the journalist was arrested by a group of Moroccan police and transferred in a police car to the central police station. This young Saharawi journalist has been persecuted several times by the occupation authorities because of his political convictions.

Bentili, holds the Moroccan state responsible for the physical integrity of Laroussi Ndour, and strongly condemns this retaliation against the Saharawi journalist. Read more

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The occupation authorities took two Saharawi journalists to the prison in occupied El Aaiún

Occupied Aaiún. (Equipe Media) – On April 1, 2018 the Moroccan occupation authorities, put two Sahrawi journalists in the black prison in occupied El Aaiún; after spending 72 hours in preventive detention inside the police station in the city of occupied Smara.

The false accusations that the occupation authorities fabricate, against both journalists are: attempted murder of a police officer, barricades and humiliating public officials in the performance of their duties. Both journalists – Mohamed Salem Mayara and the photographer Mohamed Aljomayaai – were arrested in a cafe on public street.

The arrest took place a day after the publication of a Saharawi television report showing the Sahrawi protests, the security chaos in the city causing the Moroccan settlers to attack the Sahrawi activists, injuring more than five of them. The report also shows when the activists are transferred to the city hospital, and they are denied medical attention. Read more

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