INTERVIEW-Morocco govt to seek royal pardon for jailed activists

Thu Jan 5, 2012 6:55pm GMT

* New minister to hold broad debate on reform of judiciary

* Minister promises new press law to end journalists' jailing

* Rights groups want him to help jailed reformist rapper El-Haqed

By Souhail Karam

RABAT, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Morocco's new justice minister said on Thursday he would seek royal pardons for critics of the establishment who rights activists say have been unfairly jailed, signalling a break with the past by the new Islamist-led government.

Mustafa Ramid, minister of justice and public freedoms, also said in an interview he planned to organise a national debate involving judges, the bar and civil society groups to help draft proposals for the reform of the judiciary.

Ramid is from Justice and Development (PJD), the moderate Islamist party that won an election in November in the latest sign of a resurgence of faith-based movements resulting from the Arab Spring uprisings. In October Tunisia also handed power to a previously banned party of moderate Islamists.

Local and international right groups say hundreds of Moroccan Islamists were jailed after politically motivated trials, often without solid evidence, after suicide attacks in Casablanca that killed 45 people in 2003.

Activists also cite the case of Rachid Nini, editor of Almassae newspaper, who was sentenced in June to one year in jail for criticising the security services' counter-terrorism campaign and what he said were unfair trials of Islamists.   Continued...

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