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MADRID – Skyline International expresses its deep concern towards the prosecution of journalist Nouzha Khalidi by the Moroccan authorities for joining a peaceful demonstration in Aleyoun city in December 2018.

The incident occurred during a peaceful stand in support of the peace process coinciding with peace talks between the conflicting parties in the Western Sahara, between the Polisario Front and Morocco in Geneva.

The journalist, Nouzha Khalidi, broadcasted the demonstration with its details directly on Facebook, where she was arrested by Moroccan police for four hours. She reported that her phone was confiscated and she did not get it back. Khalidi’s trial was postponed several times in the months to follow.

The Moroccan authorities accused Khalidi of “failing to meet the necessary conditions to present herself as a journalist.” On May 20, Morocco banned five lawyers from Spain and observers from Norway to go to the Western Saharan town of Aleyoun to attend Khalidi’s trial.

“We confirm that the charges against the journalist Khalidi are an excuse to suppress the voices opposing the Moroccan authorities and criticising the policies of the government.” says Skyline researcher Rawand Safi.

“Morocco is trying Al-Khalidi in accordance with Chapter 381 of the Moroccan Criminal Code, which includes a two-year prison sentence and a fine of 5,000 Moroccan dirhams” Safi says. “This law violates international human rights instruments and laws” she adds. 

Rawand expresses Skyline’s concern about the consequences of this case. Khalidi is being held accountable for the exercise of her constitutional rights, especially the right to express her opinion. She also expresses her concern that such trials would limit activists and other journalists from exercising their professional role in documenting violations and using their freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by law.

The organisation calls upon the concerned countries and international organizations to act quickly and intervene with the Moroccan government to release the detained journalists and to stop the illegitimate trial of journalist Nouzha Al-Khalidi.

Skyline International calls on the Moroccan Kingdom to respect international laws and human rights charters and to implement its obligations as a member of the United Nations and the African Union and calls on it to stop the trial of Khalidi.