Reporters Without Borders urges French foreign minister to raise press freedom issues with Algerian authorities

first_img Reporters Without Borders is calling on French foreign minister Michel Barnier to raise press freedom issues on his 13 July visit to Algeria, which has seen an escalating crackdown against the media. “Since the last presidential elections in April that returned President Adbelaziz Bouteflika to power we have witnessed a growing authoritarian tendency in a bid to bring the privately owned Algerian press into line,” said the international press freedom organisation. “At least four journalists are currently imprisoned in Algeria, three of whom were convicted of press offences”.Reporters Without Borders urged Mr Barnier to raise these issues in talks with President Bouteflika and his counterpart Abdelaziz Belkhadem and to encourage the Algerian authorities to halt this escalation of repression against the press”.”Legislative reform was also essential, particularly of Article 144A of the criminal code so that Algerian journalists would not be forced to resort to self-censorship,” said the organisation in its letter to the French minister.The international press freedom organisation highlighted an appeal court hearing on 11 July at which journalist Hafnaoui Ghoul had a prison sentence raised to three months. The local correspondent of the newspaper El-Youm in Djelfa, 270 kms south of Algiers, had originally been sentenced to two months on 9 June and has been in custody since 24 May.Ghoul, who is also a historian and regional head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights League (LADDH), was sentenced after a summary trial on 26 May to six months in prison for defamation.The journalist, who has spent more than a year under house arrest, has suffered constant harassment from the security services after he revealed a hospital scandal in Djelfa and various abuses of power on the part of the local prefect.He was sentenced on 9 June in another case to three months in prison and a fine of 300,000 dinars (about 3,500 euros). Then on 23 June he was again sentenced in a third case to two months in prison. His lawyers have appealed against the latest sentence but no date has been fixed. In total, local authorities and various administrations have reportedly laid around 15 defamation cases against him.Editor of the daily Le Matin Mohammed Benchicou was sentenced to two years in prison on 14 June and fined 20 million dinars (about 230,000 euros) for “breaking exchange control regulations”. In February 2004, he published a pamphlet entitled, “Bouteflika, an Algerian fraud”.On 3 July, Ahmed Benaoum, editor of the Er-raï El Aam press group and Ahmed Oukili, editor of the newspaper Erraï, were sentenced to two months in prison by a court in Oran for “insulting a constituted body”. The director general of the criminal investigation department laid a complaint against the two journalists after they published articles critical of the management of the criminal investigations department in the Wilaya prefecture of Oran. News Algeria : Reporter jailed after covering Tuareg protests in southern Algeria July 12, 2004 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Reporters Without Borders urges French foreign minister to raise press freedom issues with Algerian authorities News to go further News Algeria pressures reporters by delaying renewal of accreditation Harassment of Algerian reporters intensifies in run-up to parliamentary elections Receive email alerts May 18, 2021 Find out morecenter_img Organisation AlgeriaMiddle East – North Africa Help by sharing this information AlgeriaMiddle East – North Africa May 12, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Algeria RSF_en News April 29, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more