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 more 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 more
Courtesy Jessica Carmine(NEW YORK) — BY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NewsThere was no blaze to put out nor an injured victim to treat, but Maryland firefighters responded to a forlorn woman’s call to help her see, in person, her 83-year-old mother, literally giving her a lift to facilitate the emotional rescue.Shirl Carmine said she and her mother, Shirley Taylor, have been separated since the beginning of March when precautions were put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic preventing her from visiting her mom’s nursing home in Crisfield, Maryland.“Me and my mother are extremely close. We’ve always been,” Carmine told ABC News on Wednesday, adding that she was named after her mom. “Normally, I would go at least twice a week to do her hair, and other times I would go and just sit and we’d watch TV or we’d play cards.”While she and her mother have stayed in touch through the pandemic by texting, Carmine said it falls far short of the face-to-face contact they’ve missed. She said they initially tried Facetime and Zoom, “but with mom being not so savvy with electronics, she would get frustrated. I didn’t want her to get frustrated because it was already a difficult time. So we just kind of put that aside.”Instead, Carmine said she has resorted to standing outside the Alice B. Tawes Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and holding signs telling her mother she loves her. Carmine said while her mother could see her, she couldn’t see her mom because a screen over the second-floor widow obscured her view.She admitted she thought of bringing a ladder tall enough to reach her mother’s window.Carmine said her daughter, Jessica, was driving her to a grocery store on Sunday when they passed a gas station and spotted ladder truck 205 from the Crisfield Volunteer Fire Department being filled up at the pump. Suddenly, Carmine got an idea.“We got to the stop sign and I said, ‘Jessica stop, turn in here.’ She said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I’m going to ask them to see if they’ll take me up there.’”Carmine said she tracked down Fire Assistant Chief Engineer Matt Tomlins inside the gas station mini-market.Tomlins immediately got on his cellphone and relayed the unusual request to Fire Chief Frankie Pruitt, who called the nursing home and got permission to fulfill Carmine’s request, she said.“He [Tomlins] asked me, ‘So, when do you want to do that? And I said, ‘That’s up to you,’” Carmine recalled. “He said, ‘Well, we can do it today if you want.’ I said, ‘Uh, yeah. Absolutely.’ I didn’t want to let the chance go by.”She said she walked out of the convenience store “super excited.”“Within a half-hour, I was in the bucket being lifted up to my mom’s window,” Carmine said, adding that she had never been in a fire engine ladder bucket before.In the bucket with her was Tomlins and Fire Lt. Doug Curtis Jr., who had front row seats to the reunion, Carmine said.“I don’t think we’ve ever put someone in a bucket to take them up to see their loved one before, but I guess that’s the sign of the times,” Tomlins told ABC News, adding that Firefighter Robert Hunt assisted in the special call. “I’m glad we could assist.”Carmine said the moment was indeed special.“Just being able to look at her, you know, face to face was awesome,” she said.The mother and daughter both put their hands up to the window and pressed against the glass, Carmine said.“I got a little upset, and she put her finger to her eye. She says, ‘No crying,’” Carmine said. “After we got our ‘love yous’ out of the way, one of the first things she said was, ‘There are so many others in here who miss their families.’”The reunion lasted about 15 minutes, Carmine said.“I didn’t want to hold them up, but I would have stayed there forever,” Carmine said.“It was just for that little bit of time, in that little bit of corner of a little bitty town that everything was all right,” she added. “There was no fighting, there was no political back and forth, no coronavirus. It was just a very peaceful, joyful moment.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.