FLD Update – Morocco: Human rights defender Maâti Monjib on hunger strike
On 4 March 2021, human rights defender Maâti Monjib began an open-ended hunger strike to protest his detention, his conviction on charges of threatening the internal security of the State, and the irregularities in the judicial proceedings against him. He is currently detained in El Arjat 2 prison in the city of Salé near Rabat.
> Maâti Monjib is the President of Freedom Now, an association that works to defend freedom of expression and journalism in Morocco. He is also a co-founder and a member of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (MAIJ), an association that works on exposing corruption in the country.
> On 4 March 2021, Maâti Monjib began an open-ended hunger strike to protest his arbitrary arrest on 29 December 2020, the hearing that was held on the 27 January 2021 without his presence or the presence of his lawyer, the defamation campaigns he and his family have been the targets of, and a recent money laundering accusation against him. Maâti Monjib’s decision to go on hunger strike was also in response to the announcement by the Supreme Judicial Council on 1 February 2021 of its support for the ruling of the Court of First Instance in his case, which convicted the human rights defender despite the various irregularities.
> The Court of First Instance in Rabat convicted Maâti Monjib of “threatening the internal security of the State”‘ and sentenced him to one year imprisonment on 27 January 2021. The hearing for the charges, initially brought against him and other human rights defenders in 2015, was held in absentia, with neither Maâti Monjib nor his lawyers permitted to attend. According to his lawyers, Maâti Monjib has been deprived of his basic civil rights, as they were not granted access to the investigation file for the most recent money laundering charges against their client, nor were they notified of the date of the hearing in January for the 2015 charges.
> Since October 2020, Maâti Monjib has been repeatedly summoned for questioning by the National Judicial Police Brigade in Casablanca. On 7 October 2020, the Public Prosecutor announced that he was under investigation for money laundering, an accusation which Maâti Monjib believes is in retaliation for his criticism of the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance. The human rights defender has accused the Directorate of carrying out illegal surveillance on civil society and opposition politicians. In the days following the Public Prosecutor’s announcement, several of Maâti Monjib’s family members were summoned to a police station in Casablanca where they were interrogated, despite the fact that they live almost 90 kilometres away in Rabat.
> Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned regarding the conviction and detention of human rights defender Maâti Monjib, which it believes to be in response to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights and exposing corruption. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Morocco to quash the conviction of Maâti Monjib and immediately and unconditionally release him.