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Morocco should drop 'absurd' charges against teenagers arrested for kissing

Photo posted to Facebook could lead to five-year jail term for 15-year-old

The authorities in Morocco must immediately and unconditionally drop charges against three teenagers arrested for kissing and posting a photo on Facebook, said Amnesty International ahead of a court hearing on the case tomorrow.

Two 15-year-old boys and a 14-year-old girl have been charged with “public indecency” (under Article 483 of Morocco’s Penal Code) and face up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine if found guilty.

Additionally, one of the boys has been accused of “indecent assault” on a minor (under Article 484 of Morocco’s Penal Code) for allegedly kissing the 14-year-old girl, an offence which carries a prison sentence of between two and five years.

The three were arrested on 4 October in the city of Nador following a complaint claiming that the kiss - which took place outside a high school with photos posted on Facebook - had had a negative effect on Moroccan society. They were detained for three days and released on bail on 7 October, ahead of tomorrow’s court hearing.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
“It is simply absurd that these teenagers could face a prison term just for kissing and posting a photo on Facebook.

“These young people should never have been detained in the first place - there is no imaginable reason why expression of this type ought to result in prosecution.

“Launching a judicial investigation into a complaint about an act as benign as teenagers kissing is ridiculous. It should be dismissed out of hand.”  

The arrests and detention have sparked a wave of solidarity in Morocco and abroad. A solidarity kiss-in was organised on 6 October outside the Moroccan embassy in Paris, while similar protests are planned this week in Morocco.

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