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Submitted to medical examinations: Moroccan journalist accuses police of torture

Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni
Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni

In recent hours, the media scene has been engrossed in the case of Moroccan journalist, Hajar Raissouni, who was arrested by police on charges of abortion. The lawyers of the journalist have stated that she denies the charge against her, and that she intends to file a complaint against the police before the Moroccan judiciary on the grounds of torture, while being forcibly submitted to medical tests.

According to a statement by her defence, while Raissouni urges that her arrest is a politically motivated penalisation for her articles supporting Hirak Rif (The Rif Movement), the Public Prosecution have denied that her arrest has any link with the journalism profession, but is rather related to acts considered by the criminal law as crimes, specifically “the practice of abortion”.

Late on Thursday, the journalist’s defence have claimed that she plans to file a complaint against the police, as a result of the torture that she was subjected to during the medical examinations. These examinations were carried out without Raissouni’s consent, and under the police’s orders to pressure and coerce her to confess to crimes that she had not committed.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution in Morocco declared on Thursday that the arrest of journalist Raissouni “has nothing to do with her profession,” but is due to the accusation of “routine abortion practices.”

On Saturday, Raissouni, a journalist for Akhbar Alyoum newspaper, was arrested along with her fiancé (a Sudanese university professor), a gynaecologist, an obstetrician and his secretary, as well as a medical assistant.

Raissouni’s defence explained that she “denied in her statements to the police all the charges against her by the Public Prosecution, while the medical paper after the examination contained statements attributed to Hajar. Raissouni had not made these statements and urged that the police wanted to force her to make confessions.”

“Raissouni condemns this political file, through which the authorities want to penalise her for her articles on Hirak Rif and threaten her uncle Suleiman Raissouni, a human rights activist and journalist for Akhbar Alyoum, who is known for his criticism of the authorities,” the statement asserts.

The statement also elaborates that “the police arrested the journalist (…) while she was leaving the clinic of a gynaecologist in Rabat, after she urgently visited him due to bleeding.”

“The police then forcibly took her to the university hospital in Rabat where, without her consent and without respecting any legal procedure, she was subjected to a very violent counter-medical expert, in order to pressure her to admit to acts that she did not commit,” the statement added.

The statement further describes that “the medical examination that Hajar was forced to endure, was a direct abuse of her physical and moral safety. Its intention was to treat her inhumanely so that she would surrender, and make the intended confessions by those who arrested her. This is the definition of torture. This violation is of a despicable nature because it affects women at the core of their femininity.”

The statement also declares that Raissouni called “to pay attention to the political aspect of this file, which goes beyond the issue of the right to abortion, but affects the right to freedom of expression, and behind which stands the desire to silence the independent free journalism in Morocco.”

The prosecution issued a statement on Thursday that “the pursuit of Raissouni has nothing to do with the profession of journalism, but rather relates to acts considered in the criminal law as crimes, namely the routine practice of abortion, accepting abortion by other parties, participation in it and corruption.”

Abortion in Morocco is punishable by law, with a sentence of six months to five years imprisonment.

This punishment is not only reserved for women who have had an abortion, but extends to all parties who have participated in the act of abortion.

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