Urgent Action Update: One Year in Prison for Unlawful Abortion (Morocco: UA 121.19)

On 30 September 2019, Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni and her fiancé Amin Rifaat were sentenced to one year in prison after being convicted of abortion related offenses and sex outside of marriage. The doctor involved in the alleged abortion was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison, and two other members of medical staff received suspended sentences of one year and eight months respectively.



  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Saad Eddine Al-Othmani
Head of Government
Palais Royal-Touarga, Rabat, 10070
Fax: +2125377701010
Her Highness Princess Lalla Joumala
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
3508 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 462 7979 I Fax: 202 462 7643
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @morocco_usa
Salutation: Your Highness

Your Excellency,

On 31 August 2019, journalist Hajar Raissouni and her fiancé were arrested as they walked out of a doctor’s clinic in the capital Rabat. On September 4, Hajar sent a letter from prison through her newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum. She mentioned that while in custody, she was interrogated about her political writings, and was asked about one of her colleagues at Akhbar al-Yaoum and about her family, including her uncle Ahmed Raissouni, a prominent theologist and the ex-president of the Mouvement de l’Unicité et de la Réforme (MUR), one of the largest Islamic movements in Morocco. This information raises concerns that Hajar Raissouni’s arrest was politically motivated and related to her journalistic work. In May 2019, Hajar Raissouni had published a series of interviews with Ahmed Zefzafi, father of Nasser Zefzafi, the Hirak El-Rif protest movement leader. She has also published articles critical of Moroccan authorities.

Under international human rights law, women have a right to bodily and personal autonomy which includes being free to make their own sexual and reproductive decisions. Criminalization of health services needed only by women, such as an abortion, amounts to gender discrimination.

I therefore ask you to quash the sentences and immediately release Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé, the doctor and the two other medical staff, as this detention is a flagrant breach of their human rights. I call on you to also ensure that – pending their release – the conditions of detention of Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé and the medical staff are in line with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Finally, I call on you to reform laws that violate women’s rights including the provisions of law which criminalize sex outside of marriage and abortion and investigate any concerns that security forces may have targeted Hajar Raissouni to punish her for her work or silence her.

Yours sincerely,


Human rights are under threat: