HRW Morocco Must Free Man Sentenced to 2 Years over Facebook

Rabat – Soufiane Al-Nguad may not have realized the consequences of his decision to, condemn the Royal Moroccan Navy shooting of a young migrant, Hayat Belkacem, in September. Through Facebook posts, he called on people to mourn Belkacem’s death and protest at a football game in Tetouan in northern Morocco.Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a call on the Moroccan government to free al-Nguad, the 29-year-old co-owner of a real estate agency sentenced on September 25 to two years in prison for “inciting people to participate in an unauthorized protest,” hate and violence on Facebook.Al-Nguad had also criticized the Moroccan government and kingdom, which authorities described as an “insult to the Moroccan flag,” a way of “spreading hatred,” and “calling for civil insurrection.” HRW wrote in a statement published on Friday, titled: “Morocco: Free Facebook Commentator,” that Morocco’s sentencing of al-Nguad was “a violation of his right to free speech.” The organization called on the country to “review his conviction given its abusive nature.”Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, expressed condemnation over the court’s decision to convict al-Nguad, saying: “Soufian al-Nguad did nothing but express his anger and urge protests over the killing of an innocent woman…. The charges against him are illegitimate, and he should be freed immediately.”Read Also: Human Rights Watch’s 2019 Report on Morocco Criticizes IntoleranceAl-Nguad’s case is on appeal, and the trial will continue on February 11. In addition to the prison term, a Court of First Instance in Tetouan fined al-Nguad MAD 20,000.The court also charged the football fans who participated in the protest. Some of the fans were as young as 14, and the oldest arrested was only 23.The Royal Moroccan Navy opened fire on a migrant boat off the coast of M’diq and Fnideq in the Mediterranean on September 25, killing Hayat Belkacem, a 20-year-old native of Tetouan. The shooting made international headlines and sparked large condemnation. read more

Passenger train derailment kills at least five

At least five people are dead while more than 140 others were evaluated or treated in hospital after a passenger train carrying 243 people derailed in Philadelphia around 10 pm last night.  Six people have critical injuries.The engine and every passenger car in the 6-car Amtrak train travelling from Washington, DC to New York City went off the rails.  Several cars were on their sides, with the front of the train being described as a mangled wreck.It happened in an area where there is a big curve in the rails, and one passenger says he felt the brakes slam on just before the disaster.Transportation Safety Board investigators are looking into the cause. The incident has shut down America’s busiest rail corridor and is affecting morning commuter trains in Philadelphia.