GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties has decried the arrest of blogger Walid Keshida by the Algerian authorities for his activities on social media, considering it a clear violation of freedom of expression.
The Geneva Council said that, on Monday, April 27, the examining magistrate of the court of Setif has placed Keshida in temporary detention, pending a verdict for posting caricatures on Facebook accusing him of blasphemy and insulting state symbols.
Keshida, one of the Hirak movement activists, has created a Facebook page “Hirak Memes” addressing the political situation in the country in a sarcastic manner.
GCRL noted that blogger Keshida’s arrest marks yet another escalation in the crackdown against journalists, activists, and critics, which falls within the Algerian authorities’ continuous attempts to silence free voices. It also stressed the fact that such acts remain far behind Algeria’s obligations towards international treaties and covenants, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Article 19 states that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression”.This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.
Recently, an Algerian court has sentenced the journalist Soufiane Marrakchi to eight months in prison for “importing broadcasting equipment without a license”, and broadcasting images of the popular movement during demonstrations in the country.
Other journalists were also detained such as Khaled Drareni, the Algeria correspondent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Said Boudour and Belkacem Gir, in separate incidents related to their media work. In addition, the unlawful and arbitrary blocking of three news websites.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties called on the Algerian authorities to halt their crackdown against journalists, bloggers, and independent media, and to abide by their international obligations regarding the press and public freedoms.
It also urged the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release blogger Keshida and all the jailed journalists and activists imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing their views and drop all charges against them.