RSF Denounces Lack of Press Freedom in Algeria

Reporters Without Borders has denounced the suffocating lack of press freedom in Algerian media since the re-election of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a 4th term.

The latest death in detention of British-Algerian journalist Mohamed Tamalt comes to blacken the picture of the alarming situation in the country because it is the first time that an inmate dies for opinions published on Facebook, says RSF in its report on Algeria.

The fight for a free press is now more urgent than ever in Algeria as the list of taboo subjects keeps growing. Journalists are banned to speak about the health of the head of state, the assets of the Algerian leaders, corruption, etc…, adds the report of the international NGO that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.

The document also cites in this regard the imprisonment of journalists under the criminal code, the control of audiovisual media and the economic strangulation of independent outlets. “This situation is likely to worsen as the Algerian parliamentary election slated for April 2017 draws nearer”, says RSF.

“Algerian journalists have fought with courage and resilience since the 1990s for the freedom to inform”, says Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Today, we notice that authoritarian practices are undermining journalistic independence. We wonder how far will the Algerian authorities go to stifle the press and those who defend it? Is it not scandalous that in the year 2016, a journalist died in detention after a coma of three months in total indifference of the prison administration?” deplores Deloire.

He cites in this regard other cases such as those of Mehdi Benaissa and Ryad Hartouf who were arbitrarily detained for more than 20 days last June and Hassan Bouras, an independent journalist, a whistleblower who is still in detention.

RSF calls for the immediate release and dropping of all charges against Hassan Bouras. He was prosecuted by Algerian authorities using criminal code. The independent journalist was sentenced to one year in prison for publishing a series of interviews with residents of the wilaya of El Bayadh, claiming that high-ranking judicial and security officials in the city have received bribes and incarcerated innocent people for fabricated charges.

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