Maati Monjib, a Moroccan historian and Professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat, is scheduled for trial, with other co-defendants, for “harming internal state security.” Monjib is cited for expressing political opinions as President of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism and as a co-founder of Freedom Now, an organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression and independent journalism.
In 2015, Professor Monjib was denied travel out of Morocco to attend a professional conference in Spain. He began a hunger strike condemning such behavior and the ban was lifted. Shortly thereafter he was charged. His trial has been rescheduled three times and is now set for March 23rd. If found guilty, he could serve as much as five years in prison. CCS wrote a letter to the Prime Minister when Monjib was first charged requesting he be released and that the charges against him be dropped. We are, again, sending correspondence with the same request as his charge is a violation of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — both documents ratified by Morocco.
March 20, 2016
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, again, with great concern for Professor Maati Monjib, a Moroccan historian and Professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat. To reiterate, 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 other co-defendants, and faced trial that was to begin on November 19. The trial was postponed on two occasions and has now been rescheduled for March 23rd.
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.
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 also 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.
We look forward to a response from you in favor of Dr. Monjib.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Maati Monjib: The Cost of Free Speech in Morocco (huffingtonpost.com)
Maati Monjib: hungry for freedom in Morocco (freepressunlimited.org)
Update: On October 11, 2017, MiddleEastEye.net reported that the trial of the seven Moroccan writers and pro-democracy activists, of which Maati Monjib is one, was again postponed. This is the ninth time in two years.