#Justice4Morocco: End Criminal Prosecution of Free Expression Advocates

Hisham Almiraat with our Middle East & North Africa team at the 2012 Global Voices Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Hisham Almiraat with our Middle East & North Africa team at the 2012 Global Voices Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Global Voices community is working to bring international attention to the prosecution of seven free expression advocates who are facing trial in Morocco due to their advocacy.

The seven advocates have sought to defend human rights, hold authorities accountable to the public, and uphold rule of law in their country. Five have been charged with “threatening the internal security of the State” and two face charges of “receiving foreign funding without notifying the General Secretariat of the government.” The trial, which has been postponed twice, is currently scheduled to begin on March 23, 2016.

Among those charged is Hisham Almiraat, a medical doctor and long-time member of our community. Hisham has had a leading voice in Morocco’s blogosphere for nearly a decade and has long balanced profession and passion, working as a civil society advocate and as a physician. He has written for Global Voices since 2009 and served as the community's advocacy director from 2012 – 2014.

Little information about the case and grounds for the advocates’ prosecution has been made public. Several of the defendants have faced other legal threats in the past, and suspect that their charges reflect increasing levels of concern among Moroccan officials about the activities of human rights advocates in the country.

We demand justice for these advocates. Join our call.

Like other media and human rights groups around the world, our community fears that this case represents an attempt by the Moroccan government to silence those who are critical of its policies and practices.

Almiraat has spent most of his adult life working to improve the lives and well-being of Moroccans, both as a civil society advocate and as a medical doctor. While studying medicine and working as an emergency room physician by day, Almiraat ran his own blog, wrote for Global Voices, and co-founded citizen media projects Talk Morocco and Mamfakinch. The latter project was formed by Almiraat and a group of fellow human rights advocates in an effort to bolster media coverage of social uprisings in Morocco in 2011-12 and played an important role in galvanizing public support for transparency and accountability in the Moroccan government.

During this time, Almiraat and his colleagues at Mamfakinch were targeted with surveillance software that invaded their computer systems and left them fearful that their communications were being watched. These fears were later confirmed with research by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab. In July 2015, leaks from the files of Italy-based surveillance software company Hacking Team showed that the Conseil Superieur De La Defense Nationale, a Moroccan government agency, purchased Hacking Team software in 2012.

Almiraat's work over time has been primarily in the service of supporting a robust media environment in his country, and holding his government accountable for its commitments to international human rights standards of free expression and privacy.

Global Voices is calling for an end to the criminal prosecution of Hisham and his fellow free expression advocates. Click here and support our call.

Organizations around the world expressing concern about the case:

More Global Voices coverage:

Supporters on social media are also raising their voices. Join the call with the #Justice4Morocco hashtag: