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Algeria: Harsh sentencing of journalist underscores country’s state of free expression (Demo)

This statement was originally published on the Facebook page of the Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State on 31 August 2020.

The undersigned Tunisian NGOs consider the latest jail sentence imposed on Algerian journalist Abdelkrim Zeghileche as part of a continuing campaign of repression, imprisonment, and unfair trials launched by Algerian authorities several months ago, against critical journalists, bloggers, and opposition figures.

It also calls into question the credibility of President Abdelmajid Tebboune’s pledge, at the end of 2019, to pave the way for political reform in Algeria.

The NGOs condemn the two-year prison sentence and 100,000 dinars’ fine (nearly US $780), handed down on 24 August by a court in the Northern city of Constantine against journalist and rights activist Zeghileche for “endangering the national interest” and “insulting the president of the Republic”.

They reiterate their call of 12 August on Algerian authorities, to release all journalists, bloggers, and political activists jailed for doing their job, or for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Among them, are Zeghileche, and Khaled Drareni, who was sentenced on 10 August by a court in Algiers to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 dinars (nearly US $390) for “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity”.

Zeghileche, director the web-radio Sarbacane, was arrested on 24 June. He was also sentenced in another judicial case in January 2020 to six months in prison and a 100,000 dinars’ fine for “broadcasting on the web without prior authorization”. His latest sentence was issued on the same day the office of the President of the Republic announced that a referendum aimed at amending the Algerian constitution, which President Tebboune previously decided to hold, will take place on 1 November.

According to Algerian and international groups, several articles of the draft constitution are not in conformity with international standards for human rights, particularly as far as the right to life, freedom of expression, and the independence of the judiciary.

Signatory associations:

– Association for Arts and Cultures on both Sides of the Mediterranean

– Association for Citizenship, Development, Cultures and Migration

– Association for Creativity and Development and Employment

– Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia

– Daam Center for Democratic Transition and Human Rights

– Hassan Saadaoui Foundation for Democracy and Equality

– League of Tunisian Free writers

– National Union of Tunisian Journalists

– No Peace without Justice

– Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Freedoms

– Tunisian Association for the Defense of University Values

– Tunisians’ Committee of Vigilance for Democracy (Brussels-based)

– Tunis Centre for Press Freedom

– Tunisian Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

– Tunisian League for Human Rights

– Tunisian Union of Community Media

– Organization Against Torture in Tunisia

– Union of Jobless University diploma holders

– Vigilance Association for Democracy and the Civic State

The post Algeria: Harsh sentencing of journalist underscores country’s state of free expression appeared first on IFEX.


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