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ALERT 06/06/2023

ALERT 27/02/2023

MOROCCO : Mohamed Ziane’s 3-year prison sentence upheld by the Moroccan Supreme Court

06 June 2023

The Moroccan Supreme Court has upheld Mohamed Ziane’s 3-year prison sentence.

The 80-year-old former Minister for Human Rights, who has been imprisoned since November 2022, now has no further means of appeal.

MOROCCO: The former president of the Rabat Bar Association and Moroccan Minister of Human Rights, Mohamed Ziane, imprisoned after a summary trial in absentia

27 February 2023 

After a speedy trial, the former President of the Bar of Rabat and Minister of Human Rights of Morocco from 1995 to 1996, Mohamed Ziane, was arrested and imprisoned at the expense of respect for procedural rules. 

On 21st November 2022, the Rabat Court of Appeal upheld the first instance judgement, and sentenced Mohamed Ziane to 3 years in prison. The prosecutor’s opening statement set out 11 charges against him, including “insulting public officials and the judiciary”, “insulting a constituted body”, “defamation”, “adultery” and “sexual assault”, among others.  

The conviction is based on videos published in the press in which Mohamed Ziane accuses the royal family, the security services, the Prime Minister and the Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of corruption and abuse of power. 

The Observatory learns that both the trial and the arrest of Mohamed Ziane took place at the expense of respect for the rules of criminal procedure. The former president of the Bar was unable to defend himself, as he was not formally notified of the appeal hearing. This irregularity was the subject of a complaint filed by his lawyer for “forgery in public writing”. Following this conviction, the police, in civilian clothes, arrested him even though they did not have a specially motivated order. 

His lawyer’s request for release was rejected by the Rabat court on 6 December 2022 and Mohamed Ziane remains in prison, despite his age (80) and health problems. 

These irregularities constitute violations of Mohamed Ziane’s right to a defence and to a fair trial, as well as of his right to security. 

For more than four years, the person concerned has been the subject of a defamation campaign directed by the media on various websites in order to tarnish his reputation. In this case, one of the sites had published a defamatory video in which Mohamed Ziane was accused of sexual assault on a former policewoman who was also a client of his, and which she had publicly denied. These campaigns and arrests are said to follow his public criticism of the security services, which muzzle political dissidents. 

The Observatory strongly condemns the conviction and detention of Mohamed Ziane, to the detriment of the respect of procedural rules that guarantee the rule of law.   

The Observatory is concerned about these acts of intimidation which endanger the free and independent exercise and freedom of speech of the legal profession. 

In view of this situation, the Observatory recalls that the independence of the legal profession is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular principles 16, 17 and 23: 

Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all their professional functions without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference;(…)” 

Principle 17: “Where the safety of lawyers is threatened in the exercise of their functions, they shall be adequately protected by the authorities.” 

Principle 23: “Lawyers, like all other citizens, shall enjoy freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. (…) “