The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalist's group, today called on Morocco's second chamber of deputies to reject plans for a new press code which has led to a confrontation between the ruling party of Prime Minister Abderrahman Yusufi and media and which led to the dismissal of the leader of the journalists' union.
Prime Minister Abderrahman Yusufi is also the director of Itihad Ishtiraki, the newspaper that has suspended Younes Mjahed, a member of the IFJ Executive Committee, and General Secretary of the Moroccan National Union of Journalists.
"The IFJ believes that the management of this paper has acted irresponsibly," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The decision to remove Younes Mjahed is victimisation pure and simple and the management should recognise they have acted outside the law and reinstate him immediately."
Younes Mjahed had been criticised by the Prime Minister who is unhappy with the union's opposition to the new press code. The Minister of Culture and Communication, Mohamed Achaari, has also published an attack on critics of the government's plans including the union of journalists.
The new press code, which limits what journalists can cover and the terms in which they can report, has brought about widespread condemnation among independent-minded media professionals. It has been adopted by the lower house in the parliament and is now in the hands of the Chamber of Advisers, the country's upper house.
"This is the moment for politicians to strike a blow for press freedom and to block the new press code," said Aidan White, "The code does not reflect the professional standards that journalism requires and should be withdrawn."
The IFJ reiterated its appeal to the Prime Minister for Younes Mjahed to be reinstated. "There are political forces at work which are unacceptable, but the management of this newspaper must recognise the right of journalists to express dissent and of unions to speak for their members without fear of victimisation."