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A Victory for Freedom of Expression in Morocco

When a bill that threatened freedom of expression was created at the start of the pandemic, Prometheus Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, a Fund-supported, youth-led organization, successfully spearheaded a campaign to halt the legislation.

In early 2020, Morocco introduced a bill positioned as an antidote to the spread of COVID-19 misinformation online. In reality, it contained several provisions that would have severely hampered people’s freedom of expression long after the pandemic and constrain the tools that could be used for activism.

One part of the bill, for example, made it illegal to use social media to mobilize people to boycott a company or service. Two years ago, a large-scale boycott of three leading goods and services companies protested high prices during economic downtown. Additionally, there was no information about the government body that would have been established to enforce the law, potentially by monitoring citizens online. The bill was not put up for public discussion, a departure from the standard process for passing legislation.

Immediately, Prometheus sprung into action. The group, which advocates for strong human rights protections and nurtures young activists, began a petition against the bill which garnered more than 10,000 signatures. They also activated their broad network — organizing other activists and groups to call out the troubling provisions. As a result, the bill was suspended.

Activists with Prometheus Institute (Credit:M’hammed Kilito/Majority World)

This victory comes at a pivotal moment for Morocco’s human rights movement. As economic and job growth has declined, the work of activists like Prometheus has become central to addressing rising inequality.

The pressure they’ve exerted has led to backlash: a number of activists who were viewed as criticizing authorities have been arrested in recent years. Prometheus offers young people—who are most affected by unemployment but the least politically engaged—opportunities for developing solutions based in economic and social justice while protecting essential liberties.

The Fund proudly supports Prometheus in its trailblazing work galvanizing Moroccan youth to stand up for human rights and protect the freedoms that allow activists to push for equality.

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Featured image: M’hammed Kilito/Majority World