Morocco to reconsider EU ties after press freedom criticism

Legislators say European Parliament resolution an unacceptable attack on the kingdom’s sovereignty

Moroccan politicians attend a session denouncing a European Parliament resolution in Rabat on Monday. AP
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Morocco is to reconsider its ties with the European Parliament following criticism of press freedoms in the country.

The decision followed an extraordinary joint session of Morocco’s two legislative houses in Rabat on Monday that was convened to address the European Parliament’s resolution from last week.

Moroccan legislators called the resolution an unacceptable attack on the kingdom’s sovereignty and the independence of its judicial institutions, said a joint parliamentary statement read by House of Representatives Speaker Rachid Talbi Alami.

Last week, EU legislators approved a non-binding resolution calling on Moroccan authorities to improve their respect for freedom of expression and media freedom.

The resolution said press freedom in the North African kingdom has been “continuously deteriorating” and called for “a fair trial with all due process guarantees” for imprisoned journalists, including Omar Radi, Soulaimane Raissouni and Taoufik Bouachrine.

Such resolutions do not force EU member states to act, but are a broad indication of how the bloc of 450 million people feels about certain issues. The vote was 356-32 with 42 abstentions.

The Moroccan Parliament said the resolution broke trust and hurt progress that had been made over many years.

It described Morocco as a long-standing and trustworthy partner that plays a major role in protecting rights and freedoms and defending regional and international peace and security.

Journalist and activist Omar Radi was convicted in 2021 on charges of espionage and sexual assault. AP

It said the kingdom would never accept guardianship or lessons from anyone.

The parliament defended judges’ decisions in the cases mentioned by the European resolution, saying they had nothing to do with journalism or freedom of speech but were about crimes such as sexual assault and taking advantage of people’s weaknesses.

Mr Radi, a prominent investigative journalist and activist, was convicted in 2021 on charges of espionage and sexual assault and sentenced to six years in prison. He denies wrongdoing.

Updated: January 24, 2023, 5:57 PM