European lawmakers voted on Thursday to condemn Morocco for the first time in 25 years, as it called on the country to respect media freedom and to release all political prisoners and jailed journalists.
In the resolution, MEPs say that Rabat has unfairly imprisoned journalists for politically motivated reasons, particularly in the case of Omar Radi, who criticised a Moroccan judge for jailing protesters.
The vote in Strasbourg comes as the North African state is embroiled in a corruption scandal that is engulfing the European Parliament.
Qatar is also implicated in the case, but both deny any wrongdoing.
A letter seen by Euronews from the Moroccan authorities to the Left Group in the European Parliament, shows they tried to convince the group’s MEPs not to vote in favour of the resolution, while also offering the opportunity to meet with a delegation of Moroccan officials this week in the French city where the Parliament sits once a month to discuss the matter.
Miguel Urbán Crespo, a Spanish MEP from the Left Group, said it is unbelievable that despite the circumstances, Morocco is still trying to lobby members, even if it is not officially against the rules.
“Clearly it is not illegal, but it is inappropriate. It is ethically and politically reprehensible. It should not happen and even less while this scandal is going on,” Urbán Crespo told Euronews.
He added: “And in the middle of this scandal it has been possible to, for the first time in 25 years, to have this resolution, but also in the middle of this scandal, the Moroccan government has decided to send a delegation of deputies to the European Parliament to lobby against the resolution that criticises Morocco. It never happens that a country sends a delegation when there is an urgency [resolution].”
The Left was also critical of Thursday’s vote, which did not include the same measures applied to Qatar. All work related to the country was suspended last month until there is more clarity on the cash-for-favours investigation.
Parliamentarians urge Iran action
MEPs also voted on other human rights issues, calling on the EU to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation in a separate resolution on Thursday.
The vote does not require member states to act, but puts pressure on them ahead of an EU foreign affairs ministers meeting next Monday, where further sanctions on Tehran could be announced.
The country has been supplying drones to Russia for use against Ukraine, as well as violently putting down peaceful protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
MEPs also called on Tehran to end its crackdown on their own people, condemning the executions of demonstrators.
Hannah Neumann, a German Green MEP, told Euronews that the vote is about sending a strong message to the Islamic Republic.
“We wanted to send a very clear, strong and united signal to the Iran regime that this really got out of hand, and that we think they are behaving as terrorists by terrorising their citizens and the whole region,” she said.
The vote also calls for the EU to add Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi to its sanctions list.