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Morocco: Conviction of Hirak El-Rif protest leader Nawal Benaissa upheld

    January 18, 2019

    Responding to the news that the appeals court in Al Hoceima has upheld the conviction of Nawal Benaissa, confirming her 10-month suspended prison sentence with a fine, Heba Morayef Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “This verdict is an appalling miscarriage of justice. Nawal Benaissa’s only ‘crime’ was to join peaceful protests to demand the rights of people in the Rif region. The Moroccan authorities are blatantly targeting Nawal Benaissa for her role in the Hirak El-Rif movement and are making an example of her to intimidate others who may wish to speak out. Instead of continuing with their crackdown against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders, the authorities should immediately quash her conviction and drop all the charges against her.”

    Background

    Morocco’s authorities have repeatedly intimidated and harassed Nawal Benaissa - arresting her four times between June and September 2017. In February 2018 she was sentenced to a 10-month suspended prison term and a fine of 500 dirhams (around USD 50) on charges of “protesting in an undeclared demonstration”, "insulting law enforcement officers” and “incitement to commit” criminal offences. The Al Hoceima Court of Appeals upheld her sentence on 17 January 2019.

    The Hirak El-Rif protests began in the northern city of Al Hoceima in the Rif region in October 2016. Protesters have been demanding social justice and an end to the marginalization of their communities.

    Nawal Benaissa’s case was featured in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign. For more information click here

    For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): + 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca