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Morocco plans to establish a national council for the press to develop the sector and ensure favourable conditions for its permanence.
Amid approval for establishing a national council for the press, consultations are ongoing between the Moroccan Ministry of Communication and journalists to regulate the field of print journalism.
"In 2007, a project for the National Press Council was prepared, but it did not respect international standards," Moroccan Communication Minister Mustapha El Khalfi explained. "After amendment of the constitution in the summer of 2011, talks were launched between professionals and the ministry on a new project."
Requirements were established that "it must be independent and that its members are elected democratically, its budget is adopted by Parliament in an authorised manner, and it must have clear jurisdictions in terms of regulation of the profession and in terms of mediation and arbitration, as well as pertaining to the field of freedom of the press," El Khalfi went on.
The minister added the new council would focus on print media while other forms of press would remain the domain of the High Authority for Audio-visual Communication.
Mohamed Elaouni, head of the Freedom of Media and Expression organisation, told Magharebia, "The project should be incorporated into a general layout oriented toward creating profound, root change in the media field, provide it with the necessary institutional aspect and put the media in the framework of service to public opinion and interacting with it and reflecting its perceptions."
"This requires linking the idea of launching the council to the debate on the Press Law and other media and communication laws," he said.
He added, "We hope for the majority in the council's representation to be journalists, and for it to have real jurisdiction in following up transgressions and violations of freedom of expression."
Ali Anouzla, director of the website "Lekome," said talk about re-launching the council was due to a crisis of confidence between the public and the media. "We welcome that mechanism if it is set up in order to restore such confidence between the two sides," he said.
"There are many questions about the project, which is still in the process of negotiation about the council's jurisdiction," Anouzla went on. "Will it have jurisdiction over codification or control in the sector? Will it serve the courts to study complaints of those harmed by the media? And will its decisions be binding in terms of disciplining and punishing journalists, or will it be a non-independent body?"
He added, "The goal of such councils is to play the role of mediator between the reader and the journalist on the one hand, and on the other to prevent interference by any authority in the field of journalism to ensure respect for the principle of freedom of expression."