, 17 October, 2019 / 4:39 PM
Morocco's king pardoned Wednesday a journalist, her fiance, and the medical team who last month were found guilty of procuring and performing an abortion. The country's penal code bars abortion except in cases when the mother's life is endangered.
Mohammed VI's pardon was granted Oct. 16.
Hajar Raissouni, 28, had been sentenced Sept. 30 to a year imprisonment for procuring an abortion and for fornication. Her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, was also given a years' imprisonment, and her doctor, Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, was given two years in prison and a two-year ban on practising medicine.
A nurse and an assistant at the Rabat obstetrics-gynecology clinic were given suspended sentences.
Th e pardon was communicted by a statement from the justice ministry saying the king's act was “within a framework of royal compassion and clemency” and considered his concern “to preserve the future of the two fiances who intended to found a family in conformity with religious precepts and the law, despite the error they committed and which led to the legal proceedings.”
Raissouni writes for Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which is critical of the Moroccan government.
Prosecutors have said her arrest has “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist,” but some worried it was politically motivated.
Raissouni was arrested in August as she left the clinic.
Saad Sahli, a lawyer for Raissouni and al-Amin, said that Raissouni had been receiving treatment for internal bleeding at the clinic where she was arrested.
After her arrest, Raissouni was taken to hospital where she was given a gynecological exam.
Prosecutors say there were indications of pregnancy and that she had received a “late voluntary abortion.”
Rabat officials have also indicated the clinic where the five were arrested if being surveilled, after reports that abortions are regularly procured there.
Raissouni and al-Amin have been religiously, but not legally, married.
Sunni Islam is the established religion of Morocco. The country has strict rules on moral behavior and has criminalized debauchery and adultery.
According to a group that support abortion rights, most abortion-related arrests in the country involve medical officials, and only rarely do they include the women who procure abortions.
In 2018, Moroccan courts tried more than 14,500 people for debauchery; 3,048 for adultery; 170 for homosexuality; and 73 for abortions, AFP reported.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa