The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today
called on Moroccan authorities to lift the ban on foreign journalists who wish
to fly to the city of Laayoune, near the Sahrawi camp of Agdaym Izik which was the
scene of violent clashes between Moroccan security forces and the Sahrawi
"The ban is a serious restriction of journalists'
movement and needs to be lifted immediately," said Aidan White, IFJ General
Secretary. "Reporters need access to the area to inform national and
international public about events in Laayoune."
Media reports say the flight ban affected a group of twelve
Spanish and one French journalists who were travelling to the region. In some
cases, officials of the country's air carrier, the Royal Air Maroc, took
boarding cards from passengers already in the waiting lounge who were told to
travel by car, reports say. There is a distance of 1,300 kilometers between
Rabat and Laayoune.
The Syndicat national de la presse marocaine, (SNPM),
an IFJ affiliate, has also protested the air travel ban and wrote to the
Ministry of Information demanding that journalists be allowed to fly to
The IFJ says the work of independent reporting is
crucial during conflicts and the Moroccan government must facilitate access to
all journalists in Western Sahara.
"Journalists are objective observers who are best
placed to report on the crisis unfolding in Laayoune," added White. "The ban
serves no useful purpose and may even fuel rumors and complicate further the
For more information, please
contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than
600.000 members in 125 countries