Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Moroccan Press union calls for nullification of criminal provisions from press code

The Moroccan Press Union (SNMP) has called for the removal of all criminal sanctions and of the imprisonment of journalists provided for by the Press Code, deeming it a pre-requisite for the success of the democratic process in Morocco.

A press release of the Union on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day (May 3) also underlined the need to make of justice a "fundamental tool to disseminate the principles of justice and equity, an efficient means to preserve rights, and one of the tools of building democracy."

The document deplores certain "lingering practices" that restrict the freedom of the press, adding that the SNMP keeps a close eye on the development of the different media sectors.

Underlining that the "absence of a law organizing the right of access to information is one of the main obstacles to the practice of democracy," the Union deplores that such a deficit limits access to information relating to public affairs.

This means, it noted, "a lack of the transparency that should be guaranteed by a modern and democratic country."

A number of independent newspapers have been recently sentenced to huge sums of money that sent many of them bankrupt, while some journalists were sentenced to prison terms part of lawsuits including smearing, libel, and putting out false news.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Communication published its annual report (the second after that of 2005) on “written press and the public audio-visual media.” The document gives an overall description of the sector and provides figures on the number of professional journalists and the implementation of the reforms agreed upon at the national conference held in March 2005.


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