A new development in the Bouachrine case following the disclosure, on June 12, of the letter of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (GTDA). Mr. Abdelfattah Zahrach, member of the Rabat Bar Association and a lawyer for the victims, says: “It’s above all a common law case and not a press freedom case … there are women victims, many victims in this case of sex scandal “.
Taoufik Bouachrine, publication director of Akhbar Al Yaoum who was sentenced in first instance, on November 2018, to 12 years in prison for “rape” and “human trafficking” amongst other, hinted in a post on Facebook that his arrest was the result of a “cabal” launched against him.
In an interview with Article19.ma, Mr. Zahrach points out that there are “a dozen female victims, including journalists whom some people pretend to ignore …”. The latter, he says, are only interested in the conditions of detention of the “rapist”, in an allusion to the director of the newspaper in question.
The victims’ lawyer welcomes the position of the UN working group, which has openly expressed “confidence” in the Moroccan judicial system.
“The Working Group expresses its confidence in the national justice system to deliver justice for these victims whenever violence is known,” Zahrach notes in a reminder of paragraph 74 of the GTDA’s notice.
He added that the UN group insisted on the fact that “it is particularly important to combat violence against women …”.
In this exclusive interview, Mr. Zahrach spoke about the role played by the British lawyer Rodney Dixon QC, Bouachrine’s lawyer who attended “no more than 5 minutes” of the trial and who was “misled” about the true aspect of things.
In this vein, Mr. Zahrach denounced what he described as complicit “silence” on the fate of Bouachrine victims by the government led by the leader of the PJD, Saad Eddine El Othmani.
In clearer terms, he reproaches the leaders of the PJD, including his hawk Mustapha Ramid (Minister of Human Rights,) their “links” and “sympathies” with Bouachrine instead of taking a stand for the victims in accordance with the laws in force and with the spirit of justice that should prevail in all circumstances.
+ Press conference on June 18th in Casablanca +
In addition, Mr. Zahrach reproaches the National Council of Human Rights “its inaction” and “lack of concrete support” to these victims abandoned to the vindictiveness of social networks and unscrupulous bloggers.
Me Zahrach announced a press conference on June 18 in Casablanca, along with lawyers, members of civil society and women’s associations, “to enlighten public opinion” on the sufferings of the victims and “the honourable” position of the UN Group.
Vidéos Transcript :
As far as the British lawyer is concerned, firstly there is no agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and Great Britain which allows him to plead. He attended the public court hearing for less than 5 minutes when the court hearing was public. And Me Nouidi was attending as an observer. And when the court decided to hold the closed hearing due to the nature of the videos that have to do with the dignity and the intimacy of people and include sexual images and other, the court asked him to determine his position if he is a defence lawyer or an observer.
He replied that he was an observer. And as Me Nouidi was the source of his comment, he provided him with “false legal data and false facts about the lawsuit and the procedures”.
Therefore, the defence of the accused who says that the defence of the victims or the victims themselves are supported by the state or “the services”, I ask him where the accused has found all this money to pay the British lawyer, the lawyer coming from Paris and other national and international costs. We are protesting because the state itself has not taken its responsibility regarding the victims. That’s why we’re going to sue it, that’s why we’re asking it to take its responsibilities. If it does not take its responsibilities, we will pursue it in Geneva for its attitude and its negligence towards the victims, Me Zahrach added.
Bouachrine case, which is before the criminal chamber of Casablanca, is not a case related to a press offense, a matter of opinion, or related to his articles in his newspaper or to his analyses which have a character of opposition to the public policies or to the state. It’s a case of sex. This case was highlighted, the first day, in the communiqué of the National Union of the Moroccan press and the press release of the Attorney General and has been proven through the material found by the police in his office including videos filming his victims, both those who used to visit him and those working for him. Thus the court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for rape and human trafficking and to pay compensation for the victims. Now, we see his lawyers saying that he did not receive a fair trial and providing false data to the UN Group who said, at first, that he was arbitrarily imprisoned. However, this group was misled by his sources who provided him with false data that the British lawyer presented although he attended only a few seconds at the court hearing.
Today, the UN group, after the victims met with its members who listened to them, changed its point of view. The group apologized to the victims and testified of the objectivity and the credibility of the Moroccan justice. As lawyers of the victims, we regret that the UN group listened to the victims but that the Moroccan State, the government, the head of the government, and the Minister of the State for human rights, Mr. Mustapha Ramid, who is the former lawyer of Taoufiq Bouachrine, as well as the interministerial delegate for human rights have not reacted knowing that the Moroccan constitution, international conventions and conventions related to human trafficking and to protection of victims obliges the state to protect these victims. So far, they have not reacted, which led us today to ask for meetings with the head of the government, the Minister of State for Human Rights and the interministerial delegate for human rights. In the same way, today we have asked to meet all the parliamentary groups of the two chambers. Because we noticed, through a question of the group justice and development addressed to the Minister of State for human rights, that only the issue of Taoufiq Bouachrine was mentioned as well as the measures and actions undertaken by the government regarding the UN notice without mentioning the issue of the victims.
As if the victims are not Moroccan, as if they do not have rights, knowing that the justice and development parliamentary group represents not only its members and its supporters or its newspaper “Akhbar Alyaoum”, because since the PJD has no more newspaper Taoufiq Bouachrine seems to have become the spokesperson for this party in Morocco. That is to say that constitutionally and legally, they should also talk about the victims. That is why we are approaching them to ask them to help the government as part of their monitoring activities to ask about the measures and actions undertaken by the Moroccan government. We have also decided, as lawyers for the victims, to hold a press conference, next Tuesday at noon in Casablanca, at the lawyer’s house, to shed light on all these issues and to tell the national and international public opinion that if the Moroccan government does not take its responsibilities in the protection of the victims, the collective of defence of the victims will pursue it and will bring the case before the committee against torture. Because we can not let this situation endure. We will also announce, during the press conference, the creation of a national body of support for victims that will be composed of influent and respected personalities, representatives of human rights organisations and women associations, Zahrach underlined.
First, we blame also at the National Council for Human Rights. Why? Because the Dahir (law) establishing the Council stipulates the protection of every person who has been subjected to humiliation, degrading treatment or something of that nature. With regard to these victims, we regret that the council, in its old version or its new version led by the militant and the respected Bouayach, has not intervened in their favour. It has not even mandated a doctor when we find that the council visits the accused, Taoufiq Bouachrine, in prison, follows his conditions of incarceration, provides him with an individual cell, his personal PC … The accused contacts on the phone his family and the committee following his case and everyone while no one is being concerned about the victims. I ask Madame Bouayach, whose commitment to human rights and women’s rights I know, and who is a respected activist: Do not these women also deserve protection?, Me Zahrach concluded.