Academic arbitrarily detained

Maati Monjib
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Maati Monjib is an academic and founder of the Ibn Rochd Center for Studies and Communication, president of the non-profit organization Freedom Now (which he founded jointly with journalist Ali Anouzla) and a member of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI). He is also a regular commentator on Moroccan politics in international media, think tanks and academic forums where he often shared opinions and analysis about the Moroccan authorities' infringement of human rights. On 26 October 2020, Maati Monjib travelled four hours from his place of residence to respond to one of the summons he received. He had to take public transportation which exposed him to the risk of COVID19, which he contracted and had to self-quarantine after the trip. He was subsequently summoned on 25 November and 4 December 2020.

In 2015, Maati Monjib was banned from travelling to Spain where he was scheduled to give a talk at a conference about Arab media in transition. Maati Monjib began a 24-days hunger strike to protest the travel ban. His health deteriorated significantly during the hunger strike and he was hospitalized after losing consciousness. The authorities subsequently lifted the travel ban on 29 October 2015.

Maati Monjib and six other activists were investigated in 2015 under accusations of “threatening the internal security of the state” through “propaganda” that may threaten “the loyalty that citizens owe to the State and institutions of the Moroccan people” under Article 206 of the Penal Code, as well as “fraud” under Article 540 and “leading an association exercising an activity non-compliant to those set out in its status” under Royal Decree 1.58.376 regulating the Law on Associations. In the 2015 case against Maati Monjib and his six co-defendants, the police interrogation revolved around their receipt of foreign funds from the NGO Free Press Unlimited to conduct training sessions around the technique of StoryMaker, a secure storytelling app developed by Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Guardian Project and Small World News, which enables citizen journalists to publish content anonymously if they wish to. The trial is ongoing in this case since 2015. According to Maati Monjib, his trial sessions usually last four or five minutes before the judge adjourns and announces the next hearing date. It has been postponed 21 time since 2015. Maati Monjib could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty in this case.

In a letter sent to Amnesty International, the government mentioned that the reasons for the new 2020 investigation is deriving from the annual reports of 2015 and 2016 of Free Press Unlimited, which suggests that this new investigation is linked to the old case of 2015 about the receipt of foreign funding from that NGO to conduct training workshops for citizen journalists.

These charges are related to legitimate activities that are protected under the right to association. Under international human rights law, the right to freedom of association includes NGOs’ capacity to engage in fundraising activities and to seek, receive and utilise resources from national, foreign and international sources. Restrictions on foreign funding that impede the ability of associations to pursue their statutory activities constitute an undue interference with Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Morocco is a party. 

In October 2019, Amnesty International revealed how Maati Monjib and Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui, a human rights lawyer, had been subjected to unlawful digital surveillance since at least 2017 through the use of the “Pegasus“ spyware produced by the Israeli company NSO Group.

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