Morocco: convictions and deteriorating health of detained journalists Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni

Urgent Appeal
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MAR 005 / 1219 / OBS 115.5
Conviction /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Deteriorating health
26 July 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in Morocco.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed of the conviction of journalists Omar Radi, Soulaiman Raissouni, and Imad Stitou. Omar Radi has won several awards for his work, [1] including coverage of the detention and sentencing of Rif Hirak activists in April 2019. [2] Soulaiman Raissouni is former editor-in-chief of the independent Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum. [3] Imad Stitou covers human rights issues. The first two, who are who are members of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), have faced continued arbitrary detention.

On 19 July 2021, Omar Radi was sentenced in first instance by the criminal chamber of the Casablanca Court of Appeal, in a public hearing, to six years’ imprisonment on charges of "rape and indecent assault on a woman with violence", and for "undermining the internal and external security of the State", as well as 200,000 dirhams (approximately 18,824 euros) in compensation for the civil party. Imad Stitou, also prosecuted for complicity in the sexual assault portion of the case, was handed down a one-year sentence after reclassification of the offences, including six months’ jail time, for "failure to report a crime to the authorities" and "failure to assist a person in danger", as well as a fine of 5,000 dirhams (approximately 470 euros) and ordered to pay 20,000 dirhams (approximately 1,882 euros) of the 200,000 dirhams in total compensation awarded to the plaintiff.

The Observatory stresses that the accusation against Mr. Stitou follows a reversal of position by the prosecution and subsequently by the investigating judge when Mr. Radi’s defence requested that he be heard as a defence witness, whereas the complainant never accused him.

On 9 July 2021, Soulaiman Raissouni was sentenced in first instance by the Casablanca Court of Appeal to five years’ imprisonment and 100,000 dirhams (approximately 9,462 euros) in compensation to the complainant for "rape." His trial was held in his absence. Indeed, very weakened by almost a hundred days of hunger strike, Mr Raissouni had asked to be transported to the Court in an ambulance and wheelchair, which the prison administration refused, denying the deterioration of his health. After his request was finally rejected, Mr Raissouni waived it and asserted his right to attend the hearing. However, he was left in his cell with no justification, and a falsified report was drawn up stating that he had refused to attend his trial. His lawyers therefore left the hearing, considering that his right to a fair trial was not respected. They filed an appeal on grounds of falsification of the record, which remained unanswered, and Mr Raissouni appealed the ruling.

Following his conviction, Omar Radi was returned to Oukacha prison where he remains arbitrarily detained. Imad Stitou remains provisionally free, pending a final verdict.

Placed in individual cells, Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni, also incarcerated in Oukacha, are not allowed to come into contact with other detainees, even during walks. In the context of the covid-19 health crisis, their detention conditions are worrying. Omar Radi, who suffers from Crohn’s disease and asthma, has no access to appropriate medical care despite the risks posed by the pandemic. The virus was also used as a pretext to ban family visits for several weeks; they are now allowed once a month. However, while Soulaiman Raissouni’s poor health continues to worry those close to him, his family and lawyers have been unable to visit him for several weeks, with the prison administration claiming that he refuses to leave his cell. The prison administration has been denying Soulaiman Raissouni’s health deterioration for several months now, going so far as to release videos taken without his knowledge in May 2021, aimed to prove that his situation is not critical.

The Observatory recalls that Omar Radi was arrested on 29 July 2020 and placed in preventive detention in Oukacha prison in Casablanca for "receiving foreign funds with the aim of undermining the internal security of the State" and for "rape." These charges stem, respectively, from an investigation into alleged espionage in which he is suspected of being involved "in a case of obtaining funding from abroad, in connection with intelligence services" and a complaint of rape filed against him with the Royal Gendarmerie of Casablanca for events that occurred during the night of 12 to 13 July 2020. Mr Radi, to protest against his arbitrary detention, started a 21-day hunger strike in April 2021, which he had to suspend after a significant decline in his health.

The Observatory also recalls that Soulaiman Raissouni was arrested on 22 May 2020 in Casablanca and was also placed in pre-trial detention in Oukacha prison, for "indecent assault with violence and sequestration" following an anonymous message published on social networks accusing him of attempted rape, followed by a complaint filed against him—accusations which he has always refuted. On 8 April 2021, Soulaiman Raissouni went on an indefinite hunger strike to protest his arbitrary detention and to demand his right to a fair trial. At the time of publishing this urgent appeal, Mr Raissouni had been on hunger strike for 107 days.

The Observatory strongly condemns the convictions of Mr Stitou, Mr Radi, and Mr Raissouni, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of the latter two, whose sole aim is to penalise them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory is also concerned about the risks that Mr Raissouni’s hunger strike poses to his health and the lack of transparency of the prison administration in this regard.

The Observatory calls on the Moroccan authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni and to ensure that their right to a fair trial is respected.

Actions requested:

The Observatory requests that you write to the Moroccan authorities asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Omar Radi, Imad Stitou and Soulaiman Raissouni, as well as all human rights defenders in Morocco;
ii. Guarantee Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni’s access to the care and medication necessary to improve their health;
iii. Guarantee Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni access to their lawyers and relatives in all circumstances;
iv. Immediately and unconditionally release Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni, as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Morocco;
v. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Omar Radi, Imad Stitou and Soulaiman Raissouni, as well as against all human rights defenders in Morocco, so that they can carry out their activities free from obstruction or fear of reprisals;
vi. Conduct a prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment against Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni.


◦ Mr. Nasser Bourita, Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation. Email:
◦ Mr. Mohamed Ben Abdelkader, Moroccan ministry of justice. Email:
◦ Mr. Mustapha Ramid, Morocco’s Minister of state in charge of human rights. Email :
◦ Ms. Amina Bouayach, President of the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), Email:
◦ Mr. Omar Zniber, Permanent representative of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organisations in Switzerland. Email:
◦ Mr. Alem Menouar, Ambassador, Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the European Union. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Morocco in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, 26 July 2021

Please inform the Observatory of any action taken by indicating the code of this appeal.

The Observatory, a partnership between FIDH and OMCT, aims to protect human rights defenders who are victims of violations and to provide them with the most concrete assistance possible. FIDH and OMCT are members of, the European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented by international civil society.

To reach the Observatory, call the help line:
· E-mail :
· FIDH : +33 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT : + 41 22 809 49 39

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