محمد زيان

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee has called on the Moroccan authorities to take interim measures in favour of the lawyer, Mohamed ZIAN, who was sentenced at the end of 2022 to three years' imprisonment after an unfair trial and for publicly criticising the authorities. 

The UN Committee in charge of monitoring the State's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indicated that Morocco was requested to take protective measures under rule 94 of the Committee's rules of procedure for the author and members of his family who may be subjected to intimidation or reprisals for submitting a communication or cooperating with the Committee as long as the communication is under consideration. 

The Committee granted the Moroccan authorities six months to submit their replies. 

On 24 February 2024, Alkarama submitted a communication to the Committee on behalf of the eighty-year-old lawyer Mohamed ZIAN who served as Minister of Human Rights. M. ZIAN went on hunger strike to demand his release, reported his lawyer and son. 

Background to the case 

The facts of the case date back to late 2020, when M. ZIAN accused a security official of "fabricating" a video published by a local news site in which he was shown in a hotel room with one of his clients. 

The latter, Ouahiba KHOURCHECH, a former police officer, was in company of her minor daughter. On 16 May 2023, Alkarama also submitted a communication on their behalf to the United Nations Special Procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, to inform them of the multiple violations they have suffered. 

In retaliation against lawyer M. ZIAN and to discredit him, the Ministry of Interior announced in early 2021 that he would be prosecuted for attacking "state institutions have been offended through the dissemination of spurious accusations and allegations" while the Public Prosecutor's Office charged him with 11 counts, including "insulting judicial and public officials", "participation in an act of adultery" and "sexual harassment" are all accusations refuted by Mr. ZIAN, who considers his trial to be political. 

Alkarama's activism 

In its complaint to the Human Rights Committee, Alkarama stressed that the detention of M. ZIAN, whose health is deteriorating, constitutes a violation of his right to life and a violation by the State party of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular Articles 9 and 14 of Articles 17, 19, 22, 25 and 26 of the Covenant. 

Alkarama called for interim measures to be adopted in favor of the victim who suffers from chronic diseases, including heart and kidney failure. Although he suffered a heart attack on the evening of 9 February 2024, M. ZIAN was transferred to the prison clinic despite his condition requiring more appropriate care. 

At the very least and pending a decision on the merits of the communication, Alkarama requested the members of the Committee to call on the State party to adjust M. ZIAN's sentence to an alternative sentence, in accordance with domestic law, so that he is allowed to remain at home and have access to appropriate health care. 

Alkarama requested that a thorough, impartial and independent investigation be carried out into the circumstances of the unlawful interference with M. ZIAN's private life, that measures be taken to protect the author and members of his family who may be subject to intimidation or reprisals for submitting a communication or cooperating with the Human Rights Committee,  and that the Committee be informed of the measures taken by the authorities to ensure that these violations do not recur and of the follow-up to these requests.