Algeria: Prison sentence for journalist Khaled Drareni condemned


Geneva – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) condemns the three-year prison sentence handed down on Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni and calls for on authorities to quash the arbitrary conviction against drareni which is further evidence of the political interference with the judiciary to restrict freedoms.

The Sidi M’hamed tribunal in Algiers has today sentenced journalist Khaled Drareni to a three-year prison sentence on charges of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity”. Drareni has denied the charges, insisting that, “I just did my job as an independent journalist”.

On March 25, a judge in Algiers charged Drareni with “assembly without a permit” and committing an “attack on national unity,” and ordered him held pending investigation. He was arrested on March 27 at his house in Algiers and was held in a police station for two nights. On March 29, the Sidi M’Hamed criminal court in Algiers ordered Drareni’s detention in el-Harach prison in Algiers, and on March 30 the court moved him to Kolea prison outside of the capital.

Drareni, a correspondent for global press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and co-founder of the news website Casbah Tribune was arrested for his coverage of the protests which shook Algeria for most of last year, forcing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in April 2019, before they were suspended over the coronavirus.

On April 17, 2020, Geneva Council had issued a letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kay, urging him to intervene and communicate with the Algerian authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of the imprisoned journalist Khaled Drareni, who was arrested solely for doing his job.

The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties believes that the context of Drareni’s detention and the charges against him indicate that he was subjected to a political prosecution, which raises concerns again over the use of the judiciary to legitimize the security prosecution of journalists for doing their job and for practicing the right to freedom of expression.

GCRL also points out that this is not the first time that journalists and press freedom organizations have been persecuted by the Algerian authorities in order to silence them. On April 15, 2020, Minister of Communication Ammar Belhimer confirmed that Algerian authorities blocked independent news websites “Maghreb Emergent” and its partnerRadioM Post, and said that the block of the two websites served as a warning until “judicial procedures” against the outlets could be completed after Ihsane El-Kadi, the editor-in-chief of both websites, published an opinion piece criticizing President Abdel Majid Tebboune.

Geneva Council renews its call for the immediate release of the journalist Khaled Drareni and the overturning of the sentence issued against him that contravenes  Algeria’s obligations to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression in accordance with international human rights standards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top