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UA 121/19
Abgeschlossen am 3. Oktober 2019

Journalist detained over bogus charge

AI-Index: MDE 29/1038/2019

On 31 August 2019, Moroccan police arrested journalist Hajar Raissouni on suspicion of carrying out an abortion, despite lack of evidence supporting the claims. She was arrested as she left a doctor’s clinic in Rabat, along with her fiancé the doctor and two medical staff. Hajar and the four others remain detained until today. Their trial is on September 16.


Under Moroccan law, sex outside of marriage is a criminal offence. Abortion is also criminalized in all circumstances unless the health of the pregnant woman is at risk and her spouse agrees. However, under international law, women have a right to bodily and personal autonomy which includes being free to make their own sexual and reproductive decisions. Criminalization of health services needed only by women, such as an abortion, amounts to gender discrimination. This case is a stark reminder of the urgent need to repeal Morocco’s laws criminalizing sex outside marriage and abortion. These provisions violate women’s rights, including the rights to bodily and personal autonomy, non-discrimination, privacy, and health.

In Morocco, journalists and human rights defenders are subject to prison terms for expressing their views peacefully. Prosecutors used disproportionate and inappropriate security-related charges based on offences in the Penal Code and counter-terrorism legislation. Taoufik Bouachrine, the editor of the newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum where Hajar Raissouni works, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on politically motivated charges in November 2018.

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