Freedom of the Press

Morocco

Morocco

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

57

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

22

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

16

The government does not tolerate criticism of the monarchy, of Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara, or of Islam. The 1973 press code gives the authorities the power to censor newspapers and directly order them not to report on certain issues. A new media law promulgated in 2002 reduces jail terms stipulated by the press code, makes it easier to launch a publication, and requires the government to give reasons for confiscations, but the Moroccan Press Union condemned the measure for not eliminating penal sanctions entirely. Despite this new law, several foreign publications were confiscated, along with some domestic publications. In addition, the law still provides for jail sentences and fines for journalists found guilty of libeling public officials. In February, the editor and director of the Journal Hebdomadaire were convicted for defamation and sentenced to jail terms and steep fines. The number and severity of punitive actions against journalists and publications declined somewhat in 2002, though there were several instances of journalists being detained, questioned, and intimidated as a result of their reporting. Broadcast media, which are mostly government-controlled, reflect official views, though foreign broadcasting is available via satellite and a large independent print press flourishes.