Professor Maati Monjib, a Moroccan historian, was banned from traveling out of the country to attend a professional conference in Spain. He began a hunger strike, became ill and was hospitalized. The ban was lifted and hunger strike ended but Professor Monjib and several of his colleagues were charged with “harming internal state security,” a charge for which he can receive five years in prison. The Committee of Concerned Scientists has written the Prime Minister of Morocco requesting that charges be dismissed.
December 17, 2015
His Excellency Abdelilah Benkirane
Unit 9400, Box 021
DPO AE 09718
Dear Prime Minister:
We are writing on behalf of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write with great concern for Professor Maati Monjib, a Moroccan historian and Professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat.
On September 16, 2015, Professor Monjib was denied travel out of the country when he attempted to attend a professional conference in Spain. He was, at the time, being investigated on allegations of “harming internal state security,” a charge that could net him a five year prison term. On October 6, he began a hunger strike to protest these travel restrictions, and a week later, on October 13, he was transferred to a hospital after he lost consciousness as a result of his ongoing protest. On October 29 the travel ban was lifted and Professor Monjib ended his hunger strike. Shortly thereafter, he was formally charged, along with 4 co-defendants, and faced trial that began on November 19.
Professor Monjib and his colleagues are charged under Penal Code Article 206 with violating a vaguely worded law that appears to violate Morocco’s obligations to protect free association and expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), a core human rights treaty ratified by your government in 1979.
Maati Monjib is President of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism and is a co-founder of Freedom Now, an organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression and independent journalism. It appears that it is for these peaceful exercises of free speech and association that Maati Monjib is being targeted for prosecution as part of a wider pattern of intimidation against journalists and human rights defenders.
While we welcome the lifting of his travel ban, which was a serious violation both of his academic freedom guaranteed by the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”), which your government ratified in 1979, and of his right to travel, protected by the ICCPR, we strongly urge you to drop all charges against Maati Monjib and his co-defendants.
In order to meet your government’s obligations under the ICCPR and ICESCR we also believe it is imperative that you refrain from any further harassment or intimidation of Professor Monjib and ensure that his rights to peaceful political and academic speech and assembly be fully respected.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists