Algeria amends penal code to crackdown on freedom of speech

Algeria amends penal code to crackdown on freedom of speech

The Algerian regime is set on using the penal code to curb freedom of speech with the introduction of amendments that threaten with life imprisonment anyone who leaks security or economic documents or information.

The new law comes as Algerian journalists in exile continue to unveil the endemic corruption and failed policies of Tebboune’s administration and his military mentors.

The new amendment in Article 63 warns: “Any Algerian who discloses confidential information or documents relating to national security and/or national defense and/or the national economy through social networks for the benefit of a foreign country or one of its agents shall be guilty of treason and shall be punished by life imprisonment.”

The vague terms “national security” and “national economy” augur ill for an early embezzled Algerian media and social media landscapes and bode ill for a manipulation of these evasive terms to further intensify the crackdown on dissent.

The new repressive measures came as Algeria prepares to hold elections against the backdrop of worsening economic conditions, disinformation campaigns, warmongering against Morocco and diplomatic tensions with Sahel neighbors.

The regime also plans sentencing the act of “demoralizing the army in time of peace”! Another amendment that shows both the control of the army on the judiciary and the irrational mindset of the military regime.

Haunted by Hirak or the pro-democracy mass protests that put an end to Bouteflika’s rule, the Chengriha-Tebboune regime has used the Covid-19 pandemic to clamp down on the opposition sending to jail thousands of activists and amended the penal code to dismiss as “terrorist” peaceful opponents, such as the pro-independence MAK group or Rashad moderate Islamists.

Each day, the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) – created in 2019 to monitor politically motivated detentions – announces new arrests, trials, and judicial procedures.

Human Rights activist, Zaki Hannache, estimates the number of prisoners of free speech, currently in jail on charges of “terrorism”, at 228 at least.

At least 260 Hirak activists have also received jail terms due to article 87 which considers peaceful calls for regime change as unconstitutional assimilating them to terrorist acts.

Last September, UN Human Rights Rapporteur Clement Voule told the press after the end of his mission in Algiers that “the government must address the climate of fear caused by a series of indictments against individuals, associations, trade unions, and political parties under excessively restrictive laws, including an anti-terrorism law contrary to Algeria’s international obligations.”

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